Here’s the latest sentencing in the Operation Crash rhino horn trafficking investigation:

Antiques Dealer Sentenced in New York City for Crimes Relating to Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horns

Feb. 14, 2013

David Hausman, an antiques dealer in Manhattan, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to six months in jail for obstruction of justice and creating false records in connection with illegal rhinoceros horn trafficking, according to the US Department of Justice.

In addition to the jail term, the judge sentenced Hausman, 67, of New York, N.Y., to pay a $10,000 fine to the Lacey Act Reward Fund and $18,000 to the Rhino Tiger Conservation Fund.

In his July 2012 guilty plea, Hausman admitted that he committed these offenses while holding himself out to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) as an antiques expert who purportedly wanted to help the agency investigate rhinoceros horn trafficking. Hausman was arrested in February 2012 as part of “Operation Crash,” a nationwide, multi-agency crackdown on those involved in the black market trade of endangered rhinoceros horn.

“Rhino populations across the globe are being decimated by poachers seeking to meet rising demand for rhino horn for ceremonial purposes and as a traditional ‘medicine,’ despite the fact that it has no demonstrable medicinal benefits,” said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “As this week’s arrests and sentencing demonstrate, we continue to work with the Department of Justice and international law enforcement agencies to do everything we can to shut this trafficking down and hold perpetrators responsible under the law.”

According to the information, plea agreement and statements made during court proceedings:

In December 2010, Hausman – while purporting to help the government crack down on illegal rhinoceros trading – advised FWS that the taxidermied head of a black rhinoceros containing two horns had been illegally sold by a Pennsylvania auction house. Upon learning that the sale was not finalized, Hausman covertly purchased the rhinoceros mount himself, using a “straw buyer” to conceal that he was the true purchaser because federal law prohibits interstate trafficking in endangered species. Hausman instructed the straw buyer not to communicate with him about the matter by email to avoid creating a paper trail that could be followed by law enforcement. After the purchase was completed, Hausman directed the straw buyer to remove the horns and mail them to him. He then made a realistic set of fake horns using synthetic materials and directed the straw buyer to attach them on the rhinoceros head in order to deceive law enforcement in the event that they conducted an investigation. After his arrest, Hausman contacted the straw buyer and they agreed that the rhinoceros mount should be burned or concealed.

In a second incident, in September 2011, Hausman responded to an internet offer to sell a (different) taxidermied head of a black rhinoceros containing two horns. Unbeknownst to Hausman, the on-line seller was an undercover federal agent. Before purchasing the horns on Nov. 15, 2011, Hausman directed the undercover agent to send him an email falsely stating that the mounted rhinoceros was over 100 years old, even though the agent had told him that the rhinoceros mount was only 20 to 30 years old. There is an antique exception for certain trade in rhinoceros horns that are over 100 years old. By falsifying the age of the horns, Hausman sought to conceal his illegal conduct. Hausman also insisted on a cash transaction and told the undercover agent not to send additional emails so there would be no written record. After buying the black rhinoceros mount at a truck stop in Princeton, Ill., agents followed Hausman and observed him sawing off the horns in a motel parking lot.

At the time of his arrest, FWS agents seized four rhinoceros heads from Hausman’s apartment as well as six black rhinoceros horns – two of which were the horns he was seen sawing off in the parking lot – numerous carved and partially carved rhinoceros horns, fake rhinoceros horns and $28,000 in cash.