Antique shop owner trafficked walrus ivory

A variety of ivory artifacts taken into evidence. Photo courtesy of the Department of Justice

An Anchorage antique shop owner has been convicted and fined over $400,000 for illegally trafficking Pacific walrus ivory and failure to report business income to the IRS.

Walter Earl, 76, owner of The Antique Gallery, pleaded guilty to three felony wildlife trafficking counts under the Lacey Act and one count of tax evasion.

As part of the sentence handed down on Wednesday, Aug, 11, Earl was ordered to six months home confinement, ordered to pay $185,000 in fines and $216,054 in restitution to the IRS for back taxes owed. Earl was also ordered to forfeit 50 walrus tusks and other illegal marine mammal parts to the federal government.

Court documents said that Earl knowingly violated the Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and selling walrus ivory “head mounts” (skull and ivory tusks) to undercover agents. Earl tried to conceal the illegal nature of his activities by falsifying documents and lying to purchasers about the ivory’s source, stating that the ivory was legal to purchase and sell due to its age, and claiming he could legally purchase the walrus ivory because he employed Alaska Natives.

The investigation also uncovered that Earl had illegally purchased over 50 walrus tusks, which he kept as inventory for future illegal sales.