The day he was released on bond following a federal indictment, Ammon Covino asked nephew Peter Covino IV to tell a Florida marine- wildlife dealer to destroy any evidence related to doing business with Ammon, according to federal investigators.
That action resulted in both Covinos being arrested Tuesday. Ammon Covino is charged with violating conditions of his pretrial release; his nephew is charged with obstruction of justice.
Covino, 39, of Meridian, and fellow Idaho Aquarium co-founder Chris Conk, 40, of Middleton, were arrested Feb. 21 and charged in Boise federal court with illegally purchasing Florida marine life "for captive display" at the aquarium.
Covino was released that day on a $100,000 bond. As a condition of his release, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ordered him not to commit any crimes.
The next day, Feb. 22, federal agents listened to two telephone calls recorded the night of Feb. 21. The calls were placed to a Florida marine life business from which Covino and Conk are accused of making the illegal marine life purchases. The caller asked an individual to cancel a scheduled shipment to Boise, to refund the credit card and to erase all emails, text messages and other evidence associated with Ammon Covino, federal officials said.
Federal agents identified the caller as Peter Covino IV, 20, of Star, the son of Ammon Covino's brother, Peter Covino III. Agents said Ammon Covino asked his nephew to make the calls.
A Florida judge on Monday issued an arrest warrant for Peter Covino IV for obstruction of justice. Covino made his initial appearance Wednesday morning in Boise. He is scheduled to appear in Florida federal court March 15. The obstruction-of-justice charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Ammon Covino is due in Boise court on Friday to determine if his bond should be revoked and if he should be detained pending transfer to Florida to face charges stemming from the Nov. 8 indictment alleging that Covino and Conk purchased four spotted eagle rays and two lemon sharks for approximately $6,300. Officials say the marine wildlife were allegedly harvested illegally and without a permit.
Covino and Conk are each charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of illegal purchase and sale of fish/wildlife. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Both are scheduled to appear in Florida federal court on March 15.
Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell