Lumber Liquidators sentenced to pay $10 million for illegal lumber

Virginia Gazette

Toano-based Lumber Liquidators was sentenced to pay $10 million for using illegally harvested and imported lumber in its floor covering products on Monday.

The wood in some Lumber Liquidators products came from Russia and Myanmar. Logging in Eastern Russia is illegal because it threatens the habitat of Siberian tigers, according to the Department of Justice.

The sentencing comes three months after the company accepted a plea agreement in which it plead guilty to five federal charges, including a felony, on Oct. 22, 2015.

"Lumber Liquidators profited from the destruction of old growth forest and the disappearance of the few remaining Siberian tigers and Amur leopards," said Patrick Duggan, trial attorney with the environmental crimes section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

"This sentence shows that the U.S. will track down and hold accountable those companies and individuals who financially gain from the illegal exploitation of protected resources and environmental species," Duggan added.

Lumber Liquidators will pay $7.8 million in criminal fines, all of which will be paid to the Lacey Act Reward Fund, said Judge Raymond A. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. 

The charges against Lumber Liquidators were violations of the Lacey Act of 1900. The Lacey Act prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants taken, possessed, transported or sold illegally.

The company paid $4 million of the fines before sentencing. It will pay $2 million of the fines by Feb. 1, 2017, and the remainder will be paid within two years of sentencing, Jackson said. 

The company will also pay $1.23 million in community service fees to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Of this, $500,000 will go toward timber identification, $350,000 will go toward Siberian tiger conservation and $380,825 will go toward Amur leopard conservation, Jackson said.

"This prosecution revealed as ad tactic that is unfortunately commonly used in illegal logging," said Christopher Hale,  trial attorney with the environmental crimes section for the U.S. Department of Justice.

"This case hopefully provides some deterrence against that practice going forward," Hale added.

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