Crime

A Fife business falsified sea cucumber records and got $1.5 million. That's illegal.

A Fife business owner pleaded guilty Monday to falsifying records about how many sea cucumbers his business processed, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Orient Seafood Production under reported about 250,000 pounds of sea cucumber, worth about $1.5 million, from August 2014 to November 2016.

The company bought the creatures from Puget Sound fishers, processed the shellfish and sold them to wholesale seafood buyers.

Owner Hoon Namkoong falsified records, failed to retain them and in some cases did not prepare them at all. He also often paid in cash so that the sea cucumber transactions couldn't be traced.

He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law that makes such activity illegal.

Namkoong will pay about $1.5 milllion in restitution and will be sentenced July 20.

Prosecutors won't recommend more than 2 years, 6 months in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

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