Crime

Former Idaho Aquarium operator Ammon Covino faces another probation violation

Screen shot of Ammon Covino’s Facebook page on Oct. 3, 2016.
Screen shot of Ammon Covino’s Facebook page on Oct. 3, 2016.

Déjà vu for former Idaho Aquarium operator Ammon Covino, who was arrested last week in Texas on a federal warrant for probation violation.

A federal judge has banned Covino from engaging in any activity that involves fish or wildlife while on probation. According to court documents, the judge issued the warrant because Covino is helping to open aquariums in Nevada and Utah.

Covino already has been sent to jail once this year for violating his probation.

Here’s a refresher on Covino’s federal case:

In December 2013, Covino was sentenced in federal court in Florida for conspiring to bring illegally harvested spotted rays and lemon sharks from Florida to Boise for display at the aquarium.

Covino was sentenced to one year in prison followed by two years of supervised release. He was let out of prison and on Aug. 22, 2014, placed on supervised release. The court barred him from any employment during his supervised release that involves the possession, display, transportation, exhibition, purchase or sale of fish and wildlife.

On Feb. 22, U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez revoked Covino’s supervised release because he violated a condition of his release and he failed to “answer truthfully all inquiries by his probation officer.”

Court records did not indicate specifically how Covino violated those two conditions. But, on Sept. 20, 2014, Covino had asked a judge if he could work as a “construction consultant” for an aquarium his brother, Vince, was opening in San Antonio. He also asked the judge for permission to open a “bounce house” for children adjacent to the San Antonio Aquarium

The judge sentenced Covino to 30 days in jail and ordered him to pay $50,000 to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Covino was released from jail and went back on supervised release on April 2. Less than six months later, on Sept. 21, Martinez issued an arrest warrant for Covino for “failing to abstain from engaging in activity that involves exhibiting, importing, transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring or purchasing ... fish or wildlife.”

Covino has been involved in the “preparation of the opening of two SeaQuest Aquariums located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Layton, Utah,” according to court documents.

A Florida court date before Judge Martinez has not yet been set.

On his Facebook page, Covino states he his employed by San Antonio Aquarium.

His brother, Vince, who operates aquariums in San Antonio and Austin, lists himself as the CEO of the SeaQuest Adventures according to his Facebook page.

Covino and his brother, Vince, opened a for-profit aquarium in Portland in 2012. The Portland Aquarium closed Feb. 16, 2016, after it lost its lease, according to its Facebook page.

The judge prohibited Covino from being associated with Idaho Aquarium, which has been restructured and now operates as Aquarium of Boise, a nonprofit organization.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

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