Rhino crisis round up: US antiques dealer pleads guilty and more
In the United States, antiques dealer David Hausman has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and creating false records in relation to rhino horn trafficking.
The Manhattan antiques dealer is one of the suspects arrested in February 2012 as part of “Operation Crash“. Hausman admitted in the plea agreement that he was engaging in criminal acts while pretending to assist the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
While “helping” the USFWS in December 2010, Hausman actually used a “straw buyer” to acquire a black rhino trophy from a Pennsylvania auction house. He replaced the horns with synthetic ones “in order to deceive law enforcement in the event that they conducted an investigation”. Following his February 2012 arrest, Hausman contacted the straw buyer and “they agreed that the rhinoceros mount should be burned or concealed”.
In September 2011, Hausman arranged to purchase a different black rhino trophy from an undercover agent. He asked the undercover agent to send an email stating that the trophy was more than 100 years old, so that he could use an antiques loophole to cover his illicit activity. Hausman also “insisted on a cash transaction and told the undercover agent not to send additional emails so there would be no written record”.
Hausman faces a maximum sentence of 25 years for his crimes — 20 years for obstruction of justice and five years for creating a false record in violation of the Lacey Act.