LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

KEY WEST, Fla. -- Federal prosecutors say two former operators of an Idaho aquarium are going to prison for the illegal shipping of protected sharks and rays from Florida.

A federal judge in Key West sentenced 40-year-old Ammon Covino to one year and a day in prison. He is the former president of Idaho Aquarium in Boise and co-founder of Portland Aquarium in Oregon. Covino pleaded guilty to conspiracy in September. He must also serve two years of probation upon his release from prison.

Court documents show Covino and 40-year-old Christopher Conk admitted involvement in illegally obtaining and shipping three spotted eagle rays and two lemon sharks for the Idaho Aquarium.

Authorities intercepted communications in which Covino told Florida suppliers to ignore the law and make the shipments.

Conk, who cooperated with investigators, received a reduced sentence of four months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release. He also had to forfeit a vehicle used in the crime.

The judge barred both men from any employment during their supervised release that involves the possession, sale, transportation or purchase of wildlife.

The aquarium itself also pleaded guilty, agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine and donate $50,000 to the National Fish and Wildlife Federation.

The new management at the Idaho Aquarium says big changes are on the way and some are here already. It's all in an attempt to repair the non-profit's damaged image.

Read or Share this story: http://www.ktvb.com/story/news/local/2014/07/02/12050205/