Ferdinand Krizan is a 78-year-old antiques dealer. He also bought and sold elephant tusks, a sideline that will cost him $30,000 in fines and earn him a felony conviction.
Krizan, the owner of Fred’s Antiques in Franklinville, was sentenced Thursday by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci Jr. for trafficking in prohibited wildlife.
“The case involved a half ton of ivory,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango. “If this problem continues unabated, these magnificent animals will disappear from the earth forever.”
At the core of Krizan’s case was the seizure of eight elephant tusks, some more than 5 feet long, the only remnants of four slaughtered elephants. Krizan admitted buying and selling the tusks.
Prosecutors say Krizan bought two of the tusks at an auction house in Montreal, smuggled them across the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls and sold them, with four other tusks, to an individual in Massachusetts for $50,000.
They also claim Krizan illegally trafficked in other protected wildlife, including a narwhal whale tusk he sold for $8,000.
Krizan also surrendered more than 180 ivory carvings and figurines he sold online and at flea markets. Prosecutors estimated the total value of their seizures at $320,000.
Defense attorney Rodney O. Personius asked Geraci to consider a non-prison sentence, and Geraci agreed that it would “cruel” to send Krizan to jail at his age and given his otherwise crime-free life.
“They’ve been forced out of their business, and they’ve lost their home and most of their retirement income,” Personius said of Krizan and his wife of 54 years. “They’re going to come out of this, really, with only each other.”
Mango said the investigation into Krizan began with a raid of a Montreal auction house that turned up records of buyers, including Krizan.
With the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, prosecutors tracked Krizan’s purchases to Niagara Falls, Ont., across the border into the U.S. and ultimately to the person who bought the six tusks.