Michigan man gets probation in Wis. for selling eagle feathers

Milwaukee, Wisconsin (AP) 10-07

A Michigan man has been sentenced to two years of probation for pleading guilty to selling an antique lance with 30 eagle feathers attached.

Thomas J. Hampton, 56, of Tekonsha, Mich., violated the federal Eagle Protection Act, authorities said, when he sold the lance for $25,000 and a pre-Revolutionary War Mohican buckskin shirt for $150,000 in April 2002.

Hampton pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced during October by U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller. He also was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine.

The Eagle Protection Act makes it a crime to sell an eagle feather even if it is part of an artifact, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Sanders said. The few exceptions apply mostly to American Indians for items used in religious and cultural rituals.

According to court documents, the man who bought the items, from Columbus, Wis., asked his son to sell the lance four years later. An undercover agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service met with the son, searched his home and seized the lance, court documents said. Hampton was the last person to sell the lance.

Ed Spoon, an agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the law hasn’t stopped the sale of items.

“There is a quiet black market with a lot of money involved,” Spoon said.

Hampton made no comment in court. The conviction means he will have to sell his antique gun collection, said his attorney, Robert Dvorak.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Sanders said Hampton was aware of the law because another dealer was convicted of selling a shield with feathers in 2002.

Sanders had recommended probation. Hampton could have faced up to five years in prison.