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ANCHORAGE-It was announced in late April by United States Attorney Karen L Loeffler, that a ten count indictment had been handed down against three individuals,Wayne Gerrard Christian, also known as Jesse Joseph Leboeuf, 47, of Glennallen, Loretta Audrey Sternbach, 52, also of Glennallen, and Richard Blake Weshenfelder, 50 of Anchorage, by a Federal Grand Jury. The indictment included six counts of Lacy Act violations, one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacy Act, one count of a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of illegal possession of a machine gun as well as one count of possessing an unregistered machine gun.
The three defendants, Wayne Gerrard Christian, also known as Jesse Joseph Leboeuf, 47, of Glennallen, Loretta Audrey Sternbach, 52, also of Glennallen, and Richard Blake Weshenfelder, 50 of Anchorage, were arraigned on April 28th before United States Magistrate Judge John Roberts. They were charged with conspiring to violate the Marine Mammal Protection Act by selling Walrus tusks and Polar Bear hides. Sternbach and Lebeouf purchased these items using a combination of money, cigarettes, marijuana, snow machines, guns and ammo as well as other items unlisted.
The charging documents stated that between July and August of 2010, Christian and Sternbach made two trips to Savoonga and purchased 500 pounds of tusk, Christian also made two more trips to the community without Sernbach in September 2010 and March 2011.The three sold 230 pounds of Walrus tusks for $22,000 and two Polar Bear hides for $2,700 during the period between September 2010 and March 2011. It is also alleged in the indictment that Weshenfelder marketed the Walrus tusks on the Internet as well as contacted potential buyers for tusks, while Christian negotiated the sales and Sternbach wrote and signed “Gift letters” in an attempt to cover up the illegality of the items.
Christian was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, and Sternbach and Christian are charged with illegal possession of a machine gun as well as possession of an unregistered machine gun. On one occasion in December of 2010, Christian and Sternbach sold a fully automatic machine gun to an undercover agent, then sold another machine gun with a silencer to another agent in February of 2011.
In notices filed in U.S. District Court last week, the three defendants stated that they intended to plead guilty. Looking at a 15-count indictment, Leboeuf said he will to plead guilty to three counts of illegal wildlife trafficking and two counts involving weapons. Weshenfelder stated he would plead to a single count of conspiracy. Sternbach, named in 13 of the counts, didn’t state which she will plead guilty to.
When serving a search warrant in Glennallen at Christian’s and Sernbach’s’s home, officials found several firearms, coca and marijuana plants, stolen art and hundreds of pounds of Walrus ivory. When Christian was arrested he was found to be wearing a 22 caliber belt buckle pistol.
Penalties for Conspiracy to violate the Lacy Act as well as violations of the Lacy Act carry maximum prison terms of 5 years and 3 years supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Penalties for possession of machine gun, possession of an unregistered machine gun, and felon in possession of a machine gun, each carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, three years supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
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