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Va. man sentenced for illegal sale of sperm whale teeth

Thursday - 2/16/2012, 8:06am  ET

RICHMOND, Va. - A Virginia man has been sentenced to prison and fined more than $40,000 for the illegal import and trafficking of sperm whale teeth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Richard Ertel of Lexington has been sentenced to one month in prison, 90 days of home confinement and two years of supervised release in addition to the fine.

Ertel pleaded guilty in October in U.S. District Court in Richmond. He admitted to two felony violations of the Lacey Act for trading in endangered marine mammal parts.

Sperm whale teeth are commonly used for artwork and can bring in large sums of money from collectors and tourists.

Officials say that from April 2002 to June 2007, Ertel bought teeth from the Ukraine and sold it to customers in the U.S.

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