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Case Number: 2:20-cr-00350-NBF
Judge: Nora B. Fischer
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Allegheny County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with trafficking in endangered and invasive fish in violation of the Lacey Act.
Anthony Nguyen, aka JoJo Nguyen and Jackie Lee, 49, of Pittsburgh, entered guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Nora B. Fischer to counts one and two of the indictment returned against him on Nov. 13, 2020, alleging that he trafficked in endangered Asian arowana and invasive snakehead fish. Nguyen owned and operated a Pittsburgh business, Ichiban Tropical Fish, specializing in the sale of rare and exotic freshwater tropical fish species.
During his plea hearing, Nguyen admitted to violating the Lacey Act in 2016 when he sold illegally imported Asian arowana, which are native to Southeast Asia and are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Arowana, also known as “dragon fish” or “Asian bonytongue fish,” are considered the most expensive freshwater fish on earth, with highly sought-after specimens selling for tens of thousands of dollars. Arowana are also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), which is reserved for the most endangered species of fish and wildlife.
Nguyen also admitted to violating the Lacey Act for selling invasive and injurious snakehead fish in 2019, in violation of Pennsylvania law. Snakeheads are native to Asia, but have been introduced into freshwater habitats in the U.S. Pursuant to the terms of Nguyen’s plea agreement, he will also accept responsibility for falsifying documents related to the snakehead shipment.
Nyugen is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 1 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also provided assistance during the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patrick M. Duggan of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric G. Olshan.
16 U.S.C. 3372(a)(1), 3373(d)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. 2 INTERSTATE TRAFFICKING IN ILLEGALLY POSSESSED OR TRANSPORTED FISH
16 U.S.C. 3372(a)(2)(A), 3373(d)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. 2 INTERSTATE TRAFFICKING IN ILLEGALLY POSSESSED OR TRANSPORTED FISH OR WILDLIFE
16 U.S.C. 3372(d)(2), 3373(d)(3)(A)(ii) and 18 U.S.C. 2 FALSE RECORD FOR FISH INTENDED TO BE TRANSPORTED IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE
Outcome: 07/20/2021 30 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Nora Barry Fischer: Change of Plea Hearing as to ANTHONY NGUYEN held on 7/20/2021 Interpreter: Tom Nguyen. Oath administered to interpreter and Oath administered to defendant. Court confirms with Defendant that he consents to appear by video conference and Court finds that change of plea hearing cannot be further delayed without serious harm to the interests of justice. Court finds Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived right to appear in person and consents to use of video conference. Court finds Defendant competent to plead and asks defendant questions from colloquy and defendant indicates understanding, Court details charges and advises defendant of trial right. Defendant indicatesunderstanding of charges and trial rights. Plea agreement terms discussed on the record. Court advises defendant regarding Sentencing Guidelines application & pertinent Supreme Court & Circuit Court decisions. Court advises defendant of potential penalties. Government details elements of the offenses and summarizes evidence against the defendant. Defendant accepts Governments evidence and indicates wish to plead guilty. Court accepts Defendants change of plea and enters a Judgment of Guilt as to Counts 1 & 2. Defendant consents to counsel signing change of plea form and plea agreement on his behalf. Fully executed change of plea form and plea agreement, will be forwarded to law clerk to be made part of the record. Court orders preparation of Presentence Investigation Report. Telephonic Sentencing Conference set for 10/25/21 at 3:00 p.m. Sentencing set for 11/1/21 at 2:00 p.m; Court continues Defendants bond pending sentencing. The parties declined a copy of the transcript and the Court did notorder it at this time. (Court Reporter: D. Rowe) (Attachments: # 1 Plea Agreement) (cjo) (Entered: 07/20/2021)
07/20/2021 31 PLEA ENTERED: Defendant withdraws plea of not guilty and pleads Guilty to Count(s) 1 and 2 as to ANTHONY NGUYEN (cjo) (Entered: 07/20/2021)
07/20/2021 32 Sealed Plea Supplement as to ANTHONY NGUYEN, filed in accordance with the Court's Standing Order at Miscellaneous No. 17-447. (cjo) (Entered: 07/20/2021)
07/20/2021 33 PRESENTENCE ORDER as to ANTHONY NGUYEN: Tentative Presentence Report due by 9/7/2021, Presentence Report due by 9/21/2021, Position with Respect to Sentencing Factors due by 9/28/2021, Responses to Objections and Positions due by 10/1/2021, Presentence Report Addendum due to this Court, defendant and counsel by 10/5/2021, Supplemental Information or Memorandum with Respect to Sentencing due by 10/18/2021, Telephonic Sentencing Conference set for 10/25/2021 at 03:00 PM before Judge Nora Barry Fischer. Sentencing set for 11/1/2021 at 2:00 PM in Courtroom 5B before Judge Nora Barry Fischer. Details more fully stated in the order. Signed by Judge Nora Barry Fischer on 7/20/21. (cjo) (Entered: 07/20/2021)