Monday, February 12, 2007

Moonies Pay $500,000 to Avoid Shark Prosecution

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Feb 12, 2007 at 3:27 PM

The San Francisco US Attorney's Office agreed Monday not to prosecute the Unification Church and its founder Reverend Sun Myung Moon for baby-leopard-shark poaching in exchange for a $500,000 fine. The nonprosecution agreement brings an end to the three-year federal investigation into shark poaching in San Francisco Bay. The illegal poaching ring was led by Reverend Kevin Thompson, pastor of the Unification Church in San Leandro . The Express reported last month that Thompson told Moon about the poaching and the conservative newspaper publisher condoned it. Last month, Thompson was sentenced to one year in federal prison and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine. Prosecutors collected a total of $910,000 in fines and obtained six convictions in the case.

US Attorney Kevin Ryan, who was fired by the Bush administration last month but remains in office, announced the nonprosecution agreement at a press conference at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Ryan also announced that the California Coastal Conservancy and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation both donated $300,000 to go with the $910,000 fines. The $1.5 million will fund leopard shark habitat protection in San Francisco Bay.

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