Caviar On The Black Market
From Novoye Russkoye Slovo
May 5, 2003
The largest supplier of black caviar to the US, Russian immigrant
Arkady Panchernikov, 53, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and
fined $400,000. Judge Charles P. Sifton of the United States District
Court in Brooklyn sentenced Panchernikov on May 3. Sifton said that
the defendant was motivated by excessive greed.
Panchernikov, the owner of an elite New York restaurant, Caviar
Russe on Madison
Avenue, was found guilty of illegally trafficking caviar worth more
than $600,000. Last November, he admitted to illegally trading American
and Russian caviar and to violating endangered-species laws.
Moreover, Panchernikov deliberately mislabeled lower quality caviar
as the more expensive beluga. Panchernikov had admitted his guilt
in the course of the investigation. However, in court, he denied
his previous testimony and said his case was politically motivated.
Federal wildlife officials say that Panchernikovs company
Caspian Star Caviar, a distributor based at Kennedy International
Airport, sold sixty percent of all the black caviar sold on the
American market over the past four years. Panchernikov got rich
selling delicacy caviar to cruise liners and supplied it to the
most prestigious restaurants in New York.
Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Monaco urged the judge to give
Panchernikov the maximum possible penalty, pointing out that the
illegal harvesting of roe has left sturgeon on the brink of extinction.
Speaking to reporters in the court building, Monaco estimated that
half of the black caviar imported into the United States is contraband.
Panchernikovs lawyer, Gerald Shargel, rebutted: Mr.
Pancherikov is not a serial caviar criminal. But Shargel acknowledged
that the Russian immigrant had taken unlawful steps to cut
through red tape and had not obtained the necessary export
permits from the former Soviet Union.
Translated from Russian by Elizabeth LeBras.
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