NYC man admits smuggling piranhas

NYC man admits smuggling piranhas

Posted: Updated:
AP file AP file

NEW YORK (AP) - Federal authorities say a New York City tropical fish merchant has admitted smuggling over 39,000 piranhas and labeling them as common aquarium fish.

The Justice Department said Joel Rakower and his Queens company, Transship Discounts Ltd., pleaded guilty on Wednesday and agreed to pay $73,000 in fines.

Piranhas are illegal in New York City and more than two dozen states.

Prosecutors say Rakower imported the piranhas in 2011 and 2012 and resold them to fish retailers in several states. Only 850 were recovered.

His lawyer told Newsday that Rakower had been in the wholesale tropical fish supply business for 30 years. He says Rakower made an error in judgment and is now paying for it.

Sentencing was set for April 24.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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