The owner of an Atlanta piano import/export company was sentenced in March for illegally smuggling internationally protected elephant ivory into the U.S. Pascal Vieillard and his company, A-440 Pianos, were each ordered to pay $17,500 and given three years probation, with the condition that all imports by the company will be monitored for the duration of the sentence.
According to reports, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials from its Southeast Regional Office were tipped off by the CITES Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, which had received an inquiry about trade from the company. A subsequent raid on an incoming shipment of pianos by A-440 Pianos uncovered piano keys made from elephant ivory hidden in a crate labeled as furniture and personal effects. 1,710 individual pieces of elephant ivory were seized and confiscated.
Elephants are endangered and are protected by an Appendix I listing within CITES, which prohibits international trade in these animals or their body parts.