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Alaska woman in walrus trading ring pleads guilty

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Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 3:10 pm | Updated: 1:15 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A woman has pleaded guilty to illegally obtaining walrus ivory and polar bear hides from Alaska Native hunters in Savoonga.

Loretta Sternbach, an Alaska Native from Glennallen, admitted in federal court on Tuesday to illegally buying and selling walrus ivory and polar bear hides. Two co-conspirators, Jesse LeBoeuf and Richard Weshenfelder, earlier pleaded guilty. The three will be sentenced in November.

Prosecutors say Sternbach and LeBoeuf made numerous trips to Savoonga, where they offered Native hunters not only cash but items including firearms, snowmachines and marijuana for marine mammal parts.

Prosecutors say over a six-month period the three illegally sold 230 pounds of walrus tusks and two polar bear hides for nearly $25,000. Weshenfelder helped sell the items on the Internet.

She also pleaded guilty to possessing illegal machine guns.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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