Man gets 1 year
for poaching isle coral

King Wong helped sell 100 tons
of coral from protected reefs

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES >> A man was sentenced to a year in prison yesterday for poaching 100 tons of coral from protected Hawaiian reefs that may have gone into home aquariums, authorities said.

King Wong, 55, of Honolulu, collapsed as a federal judge sentenced him and was taken away by paramedics about 10 minutes later. He was treated at White Memorial Medical Center and released, a spokeswoman said. She did not know the nature of his illness.

Wong also was fined $35,000 and ordered to pay $77,740 in restitution to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. He had pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic in unlawfully taken coral and live rock.

Authorities said that between 1996 and 1998, poachers swam out and hammered off pieces of reefs in Kaneohe Bay.

Wong, who owns a seafood business in Honolulu, arranged to have it shipped to the mainland in crates labeled as ceramics or smoked fish, prosecutor William Carter said.

Two convicted accomplices, David Henry, 37, of Downey, Calif., and Marc Eberle, 40, of Anaheim, Calif., were sentenced in December to six months each of home detention and to $34,200 in restitution.

The coral, which usually is sold in aquarium supply stores, was worth more than $1 million wholesale, the prosecutor said.

American Samoa is the only place in the world where coral can be harvested legally, the U.S. attorney's office said.

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