North Carolina man gets federal probation and fine in illegal ginseng case from Randolph County


ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA – U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh sentenced a North Carolina man this week to one year of probation and a fine of $4,250 for aiding and abetting the illegal transportation of ginseng across state lines, Acting U.S. Attorney Randolph Bernard announced.

David Lee, 35 of Raleigh, pleaded guilty to one count of “Interstate Transportation of Ginseng in Violation of State Law – Aiding and Abetting” in December 2020. Lee admitted to facilitating and purchasing nearly 15 pounds of ginseng for a total of $4250 from Randolph County and elsewhere and transported it to North Carolina.

This case was in violation of the federal Lacey Act, which prohibits the taking and interstate trafficking of protected plants and animals in violation of state law. Under the act, it’s a felony if the plant’s market value exceeds $350.00. West Virginia’s ginseng statute (WV Code 19-1A-3a) has various requirements for the ginseng market. One requirement is that ginseng not be transported to another state absent a certificate of origin from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the West Virginia Natural Resources Police investigated the case against Lee.

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