PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Loren Varga, 62, of Franklin Township, New Jersey, was sentenced to one day of incarceration, two years’ supervised release and a $1,500 fine by United States District Court Judge Anita Brody for illegally purchasing a tiger skin rug, made from an endangered species.
In July 2019, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Endangered Species Act and one count of violating the Lacey Act. These charges stemmed from his participation in the commercial purchase of a tiger rug, which he knew was made from an endangered species, and for which he traveled across state lines to receive.
Some years before, the defendant had previously attempted to buy a similarly illegal tiger pelt and was warned by the Unites States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that to do so was a crime. Apparently undeterred, the defendant again sought one out in 2018. When USFWS discovered the defendant’s intentions, it arranged a sting operation to thwart that effort. That operation led to this prosecution.
“People who make persistent efforts to own these endangered animal pelts are part of the very industry that has led these majestic animals to become endangered,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “It is illegal and further, it is unconscionable, that someone would attempt to procure an endangered animal skin not just once, but twice. We take this type of conduct seriously and it will be prosecuted.”
The case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nancy Beam Winter.