ANCHORAGE, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that Walter Earl, 75, of Anchorage, and owner of “The Antique Gallery,” has been federally charged for illegally buying and selling walrus ivory, and failing to report any of his income to the IRS. The felony information charges Earl with three counts of Lacey Act violations and one count of tax evasion.
The felony information alleges that Earl regularly trafficked in illegal walrus ivory and, specifically, on three separate occasions in 2017, Earl knowingly violated the Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and selling walrus ivory head mounts (skull and ivory tusks). Earl then tried to conceal the illegal nature of his activities by falsifying documents and lying to purchasers about the ivory’s source. The information alleges that Earl falsely claimed the ivory was “Pre-Act,” and falsely claimed he was legally allowed to purchase the walrus ivory because he employed Alaska Natives. It is also alleged that, as part of his scheme to illegally buy and sell walrus ivory, Earl illegally purchased more than 50 walrus tusks that he intended to sell.
The investigation further revealed that Earl knowingly did not file individual income tax returns for the years 2013 through 2017. The gross income Earl received included income from his business, The Antique Gallery, located in Anchorage, which totaled $679,245 for the years 2013 through 2017. To avoid creating records of revenue and income, Earl allegedly committed acts of evasion to include structuring transactions at various financial institutions to avoid reporting requirements, instructing his employees to not report the income they earned, keeping inadequate business records, and use of cash.
If convicted, Earl faces a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine for each count. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS); and IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) conducted the investigation leading to the charges in this case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) also assisted in the investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward.
The charges in the information are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.