A 75-year-old Anchorage man faces federal charges for buying and selling walrus ivory, as well as failing to report his income to the IRS, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Anchorage.
Walter Earl, owner of The Antique Gallery, has been charged with three counts of violating the Lacey Act and one count of tax evasion.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Earl regularly bought and sold illegal walrus ivory. In 2017, Earl knowingly violated the Lacey Act three times, buying and selling walrus ivory head mounts. He falsified documents and lied to purchasers about the source of the ivory. The 1900 Lacey Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold. It bans the sale of walrus ivory unless it has been crafted by Alaska Natives.
Earl also allegedly bought more than 50 walrus tusks that he planned to sell. The charges allege that Earl falsely claimed the ivory was "pre-Act" and that he was allowed to buy it because he employed Alaska Natives.
Earl faces the tax evasion charge for not filing taxes between 2013 and 2017. According to the news release, to avoid creating records of revenue and income, Earl structured transactions at various financial institutions to avoid reporting requirements, instructed his employees to not report the income they earned, kept inadequate business records, and used cash. Income from The Antique Gallery totaled $679,245 between 2013 and 2017.
Earl faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement; and IRS Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the charges. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward.