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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
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v.
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JOSEPH CHAIT,
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Defendant.
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16-CR-193-JPO-1
5('$&7('&23<

SENTENCING MEMORANDUM ON BEHALF OF JOSEPH CHAIT

Judith H. Germano, Esq.


GERMANO LAW LLC
460 Bloomfield Avenue, Suite 200
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
jgermano@germanolaw.com
(201) 247-7970
Attorney for Joseph Chait

Introduction
Joseph (Joey) Chait worked in his familys California-based art and antiques gallery
and auction house (the Gallery) run by his domineering father for the past 15 years, since he
was 23 years old. This was the only job he has ever held, other than work within the Church
of Scientology in which he was raised. Joey has entered a guilty plea and fully accepts
responsibility for facilitating Gallery shipments, out of the United States, of artwork items made
from carved and finished rhinoceros horn and ivory, without the requisite permits. Joey did not
receive any financial gain from these particular transactions beyond his base salary at his fathers
business. At great risk to himself and his family, Joey has fully and proactively cooperated with
the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, providing information and
engaging in proactive, recorded communications to help the government in this and other
investigations. As the sentencing letters to the Court demonstrate, Joey is a kind and gentle soul
who is always eager and willing to help others, and who has suffered years of significant and
horrible abuse within a destructive cult that inculcated obedience and suppressed independent
thought through physical and mental punishment and threats of being completely cut off from
those whom he loved most.
From birth, Joey Chait was raised in the Church of Scientology (the Church), which (as
has been well-documented) is an internally violent cult that preaches fear and strict obedience.
Within the Church, Joey was subjected to mental and physical abuse, including beatings as well
as food and sleep deprivation. From a young age, he also lived with the terrifying understanding
that if he dared to challenge the tenets or authority of the Church, he would be disconnected:
completely ostracized by parents, family and friends.
Obedience was also demanded by Joeys father, an explosive and frightening man who
dominated every aspect of Joeys life from childhood through adulthood. Joey was denied the

opportunity to be educated outside of unaccredited Scientology schools; he was not allowed to


control his own finances; his father (consistent with Church teachings) disapproved of his
homosexuality and coerced him to use Scientology to try to become straight; Joey understood
that if he left the Church, he would be denied all future contact with his mother, father and
brothers; at work, in his fathers art and antiques gallery, Joey was not permitted to make even
minor decisions without asking his fathers permission. Not surprisingly, Joey did as he was
told, at the Church and at the I.M. Chait Gallery, where under his fathers direction, he violated
the wildlife regulations even though he knew it was wrong.
During the course of the instant criminal investigation involving transactions at the I.M.
Chait Gallery, Joeys father became incapacitated due to a heart attack that caused severe brain
damage. While distressed by his fathers failing health, for the first time in his life (at the age of
36), Joey was free of his fathers tyrannical grip. Since then, he has repeatedly sought to make
things right. Joey has admitted his guilt, taken full accountability for his actions, and has
cooperated with the government to try to make amends for his conduct. To address the trauma of
the past three decades, Joey is currently undergoing therapy with a professional who specializes
in treating victims of destructive cults.
Given these circumstances, incarceration would not promote any of the goals of
sentencing and would fail to recognize that Joeys conduct was largely attributable to the cruel
abuses, beliefs and ambitions of his father and the Church. A non-custodial sentence would be
sufficient and just punishment that properly takes into account the nature and characteristics of
Joeys particular offense and his personal history and characteristics. Joey: clearly is not at risk
of re-offending and poses no threat to the community; has fully accepted responsibility and
showed remorse for his conduct; engaged in significant and even proactive efforts to assist the

government in this and other wildlife investigations at extraordinary personal cost; and is making
significant effort and progress as he begins a new chapter of his life, breaking from the captivity
and control of the abusive cult in which he was raised. A sentence of community service would
best serve the interests of justice while also allowing Joey the opportunity to continue with
critically important mental health treatment and counseling with the aid of an expert trained in
recovery from destructive cults.
Guilty Plea and Sentencing Guideline Calculations
On March 9, 2016, Joey pled guilty to a two-count Information. Count 1 charged a
conspiracy (2008 January 2013) to commit Lacey Act violations and to smuggle artworks
made of carved and finished ivory and rhinoceros horn out of the United States. He did so
without the required CITES export permits and, to facilitate buyers shipments, he falsified
invoices regarding the type and value of the item sold. Count 2 charged him with submitting a
false invoice on October 13, 2011, pertaining to an artistic sculpture of the Asian goddess
Guanyin, made from carved rhinoceros horn, which an undercover agent brought to the Gallery
on consignment, and another undercover agent purchased from the Gallery in an auction. The
guideline offense level is 19: base level offense of 6 (U.S.S.G. 2Q2.1(a); 2-level increase
because the transactions involved a pecuniary gain or commercial purpose (U.S.S.G. (b)(1)(A);
14-level increase due to market value of at least $1 million (U.S.S.G. 2Q2.1(b)(3)(A) and
2B1.1(b)(1)(H)); and 3-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility (U.S.S.G. 3E1.1).1
Joey has an unblemished record and thus, his criminal history category is I. The sentencing
range is 30-37 months and the fine range is $10,000 - $100,000. Pursuant to the plea agreement,

11

The $1 million figure is not the profit earned by the Gallery. Approximately 99% of all items
that the Gallery sold at auction were on consignment. The Gallery, as a middleman, collected a
commission ranging from 20% to 40% of the sale price of the item.
3

the parties agreed not to seek an upward or downward departure, however, they are free to seek a
variance under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a). The government is currently in negotiations with the I.M.
Chait Gallery (the corporate entity) regarding a potential corporate penalty and fine. As part of
his full cooperation with the government, Joey has helped, to the extent appropriate and at the
governments request, to facilitate negotiations for a potential corporate resolution with the
Gallery, even though such a decision is not Joeys decision to make on behalf of his fathers
business. To that end, in addition to obtaining permission to provide his fathers medical
information and engage in other discussions through counsel, Joey willingly offered his services
for a corporate compliance, mediation and outreach program as part of any corporate settlement.
Regulation of Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn
Trade in wildlife has been regulated since 1973 through the Endangered Species Act
(ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1531, et seq.), and since 1975 through the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The ESA and CITES have
generated a continuously evolving, indeed confusing, web of incredibly complicated federal
regulations (each state also has its own laws). Identifying the applicable federal regulation
depends on the species, the date upon which a particular type of wildlife became protected, and
the level of protection. For instance, under federal law, carved, reshaped, or worked (as
opposed to raw) African elephant ivory can be bought and sold in the United States if it is legally
possessed (e.g., imported into the United States before such imports were prohibited in 1989).
Worked African elephant ivory may be exported from the United States in limited situations if it

was taken from the wild prior to February 4, 1977. In contrast, worked Asian elephant ivory, can
only be sold in interstate commerce or exported if it is an antique (i.e., at least 100 years old).2
There are similarly complicated requirements pertaining to the sale of rhinoceros horn:
for instance, the black rhinoceros has been listed in CITES since 1975 and in the ESA since
1980; the southern white rhinoceros has been listed in CITES since 1977 but was not listed in the
ESA until 2013 (there are further distinctions pertaining to the northern white rhinoceros). Thus,
items made from these materials could be exported if they were pre-CITES but the additional
antiques requirement pertaining to exports/sales only applied to those items listed in the ESA
(which, during the relevant time period in this case, did not include the southern white
rhinoceros, but rather only the black rhinoceros). Even today, the southern white rhinoceros is
not subject to the antiques exemption because in the ESA, it is listed as threatened but not
endangered.3

See, e.g., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Asian Elephant Ivory,
http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/factsheet-asian-elephant-ivory-2003.pdf; U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service, African Elephant Ivory,
http://library.fws.gov/IA_ubs/african_elephant_ivory99.pdf; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
USFWS Moves to Ban Commercial Elephant Ivory Trade Questions & Answers,
http://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html (last
visited 5/14/16); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, CITES Permits and Certificates,
https://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/factsheet-cites-permits-and-certificates-2013.pdf (last
visited 6/6/16).
3
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Poaching Crisis Prompts Immediate Protection of Southern
White Rhino Under ESA, http://www.fws.gov (search September 10, 2013 press release within
FWS website) (Sept. 10, 2013); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, A Crash Course in Rhinos &
Rhino Conservation, http://www.fws.gov/news/blog/index.cfm/2012/2/17/A-Crash-Course-inRhinos--Rhino-Conservation (2/17/12); U.S. Fish & Wildlife, USFWS Moves to Ban
Commercial Elephant Ivory Trade Questions & Answers,
http://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html (last
visited 5/14/16); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, CITES Permits and Certificates,
https://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/factsheet-cites-permits-and-certificates-2013.pdf (last
visited 6/6/16); Information obtained directly by counsel through communications with the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
2

Various documentation is required to demonstrate that an individual piece of worked


ivory or rhinoceros horn satisfies the requirements necessary for sale or export. In addition,
under CITES, export permits are required to remove ivory and rhinoceros horn items from the
United States, regardless of their age.
Church of Scientology
The Church of Scientology was founded in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard. As documented
below, it is a repressive and vindictive cult that inflicts physical and mental abuse on its
members and destroys lives through the practice known as disconnection.
The Church attracts its adherents by promising to solve ones problems through courses
and therapy, known as auditing. Very basically, the Church claims that auditing can remove
billions of years of negative energy and emotion so that one can become Clear, which is
necessary to achieve a joyful immortal state to save the planet from annihilation. At the highest
level, followers are told that the Churchs teachings are based on intergalactic events and battles
that occurred four quadrillion years ago, when the universe began (according to Hubbard).
Church members take an endless number of increasingly expensive courses or auditings.4 The
Churchs assets are estimated to be well over $1 billion and it operates as a tax-exempt religious
organization. Lawrence Wright, Going Clear Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of
Disbelief, p. IX-XI, 17-18, 127-130, 288-89 (2013).

Scientology auditing courses address religious philosophy and life skills (communications,
relationships, etc.). The price of the courses increases as members progress through higher
levels. In 2011, beginner courses cost $750, and advanced courses can cost $8,000 to $9,000.
Reitman, Inside Scientology, Rolling Stone (above). Members never finish taking courses
because every 5-10 years, the Church claims it made a mistake or finds another basis to require
that members complete updated courses. See, e.g., http://tonyortega.org/2015/05/08/a-voicefrom-inside-the-church-of-scientology-yes-the-survival-rundown-drives-you-insane/.
6

In the auditing process, of which Joey endured tens of thousands of hours from the age of
5 to the age of 32, the subject (also known as a Pre-Clear or PC) holds two metal canisters
wired to an Electropsychometer, or E-Meter, which measures the bodys reactions to the
questions somewhat as a lie detector does. Subjects are encouraged to disclose any disturbing
past memories or transgressions in order to be cleared to go up the Bridge to Total Freedom,
through many levels leading to eternal spiritual happiness, a process that can cost hundreds of
thousands of dollars. Maureen Orth, Scientology: What Katie Didnt Know, Vanity Fair,
Sept. 26, 2012, available at http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2012/10/katie-holmes-divorcescientology.
Auditing is run akin to an inquisition. The subject sits in a small interrogation room
under video and audio surveillance with the questioners back to the door, and is asked hundreds
of questions, including have you done anything you dont want known? and others intended to
root out unconscious lies. Janet Reitman, Inside Scientology, Rolling Stone, RS995,
February 8, 2011, available at http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/inside-scientology20110208?page=7. The Pre-Clear who is subjected to auditing is not allowed to leave the room
until the session is completed to the satisfaction of the auditor. Some sessions continue for up to
ten hours. If the Pre-Clear attempts to leave the room before the session is over, the auditor
physically forces the person back into the chair, where he must remain until the question is
answered. The auditor also writes down everything that the Pre-Clear says and the Church
retains these records forever.
Notably, a Scientologist who also upholds strong allegiance to the church conducts the
inquisition. Since negative statements about the church are forbidden, this is one of the ways
that Scientologists are conditioned brainwashed to conform to the directives of the church.

this. But it is a prison of belief and folks are held in in spiritual handcuffs so to
speak because they feel their immortality could be at risk.
letter, Ex. D, p. 4).

letter, Ex. D, p. 4).

Joey Chait was raised in a family where

they were handcuffed to the CULT

letter, Ex. D, p. 4).

Joey completed high school, but he was only permitted to attend Scientology schools,
which were unaccredited and academically inadequate (Presentence Investigation Report dated
May 6, 2016 (PSR) 48;5

Ex. D, p. 2). The teachers were Scientologists and

taught through Scientology techniques, and there was no specific curriculum.


Upon graduating, around the age of 18, Joey yielded under intense pressure to work for
the Sea Organization (Sea Org). The Sea Org is supposedly Scientologys clergy. Its
members, many of whom were enlisted as children, sacrificed their education and were
impoverished by the service. Going Clear, p. XII. Members signed billion-year contracts to
demonstrate their eternal commitment to the goals, purposes and principles of the Scientology
religion (Going Clear, p. XII, 116). Joeys parents were very proud and viewed his acceptance
into the Sea Org as a momentous occasion.

The probation officer provided defense counsel with a PSR dated May 6, 2016. On May 31,
2016, defense counsel responded to the PSR and provided comments in a letter to the probation
officer (Probation letter, Ex. J). At the time that this Sentencing Memorandum was filed, a
revised PSR had not yet been issued.
9

Joey and others have described the Sea Org as a slave camp. His friend,
denounced the organization, stating that the pretense that it
works in the same way as a church is both an insult to religion and quite ridiculously untrue
letter, Ex. D, p. 10). Joey was required to sign a billion-year contract, worked 12-15
hours a day, seven days a week, and was paid $40 per week (PSR 42;

letter, Ex. D, p.

2).6 After work, Joey had to take Scientology courses, usually from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m., which were
free under the billion-year contract, as long as he remained in the Sea Org, but were then billed
at full price once he left..
The Sea Org members lived in prison-like conditions. Joey slept in a dorm room with at
least seven or eight people, and often as many as thirty, where there was no television, no cell
phones, and all incoming and outgoing telephone calls and mail were monitored.

letter,

Ex. D, p. 2). Joey was beaten and constantly subjected to sleep and food deprivation as well as
the constant fear of interrogation (PSR 42). The mandated conformity took away ones right
to self.

letter, Ex. D, p. 10). Joey, like all members who take classes, also had to sign

a confidentiality agreement, promising not to divulge the Churchs philosophy, practices, or


assaults. See, e.g., http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Scientology/ReleaseForms/;
http://www.villagevoice.com/news/how-debbie-cook-exposed-scientology-and-got-away-scotfree-6712877. Joey was forced to sign this agreement in a windowless room, while being
videotaped, and the document was notarized by the senior Sea Org ethics officer.

The Church of Scientology states that all Sea Org members are required to sign this billion-year
contract to symbolize their eternal commitment to the religion.
http://www.scientology.org/faq/church-management/is-it-true-that-people-in-the-sea-org-sign-abillion-year-contract.html.
6

10

In the Sea Org, Joey was a supervisor for students completing upper level courses
involving the confidential materials from Clear to OT 1, OT 2, and OT 3. These materials
addressed the intergalactic events from 75 million years ago and Joey helped prepare the students
for auditing at these levels. When Joeys statistics (i.e., his well-done auditing hours) were
low, his supervisor would smack him on the head with her hand or anything else she was
holding. When Joey provided an explanation, the supervisor would scream at him in front of the
other auditors and call him a faggot and a degraded being. The supervisor would then
threaten to send him to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), which terrified Joey. Members
forced into RPF (often for months at a time) were crowded into dark rooms, given black overalls
(or boiler suits) to wear, were made to eat slop with their hands from buckets of table scraps,
forbidden to have contact with anyone outside of their group, and compelled to do manual labor
for hours at a time with little sleep (Going Clear, p.155, 174, 191-92; see also, e.g., Sasha
Goldstein, Former Scientologist Exposes Brutal Church-Run Child Labor Camp, the Ranch,
NY Daily News, Mar. 17, 2013).
Physical abuse for arbitrary reasons was common. Any time that Joey provided a
response to a senior Sea Org member that was not to the seniors liking, the senior would throw
objects at Joey including pens, books and even a desk lamp. Once Joey was punched simply
because he used the bathroom without asking permission. Another time,

another supervisor put Joey up against the wall


with her hand to his throat and threatened: If you ever tell anyone about this, I will f*ing kill
you.

11

Sea Org members were often ordered to work 24 or more hours without sleep. For
instance, in addition to Joeys responsibilities as a supervisor, Joey (and all other Sea Org
members) were required to perform any other tasks requested of them, such as calling members
to increase attendance at a course, working on construction projects, and physically setting up
large events for public Scientologists. Sea Org members were often forced to work without sleep
in order to complete their regular jobs as well as the additional work.
All Sea Org members were also directed to sell Scientology materials. Four to six times
a year, a new book or lecture series was released and all Sea Org members were given a sales
quota. Sea Org members were not permitted to sleep, use the bathroom, or eat until their quota
was met.

He was placed in
solitary confinement, where he was imprisoned alone in a windowless room for two months;
Joey was barricaded in the room by a Scientology ethics officer, who slept in a bed that was
pressed against the door to prevent Joey from escaping

letter, Ex. B, p. 2). Joey was

only allowed to leave to use the bathroom (under guard by the ethics officer) and to be
interrogated. He was also forced to endure corrective therapy to fix his homosexual
tendencies

letter, Ex. B, p. 2). In addition, his penalty included hard labor, such as

cleaning toilets, cleaning the kitchen, and emptying the huge trash dumpsters. Furthermore, he
was subjected to mental abuse by interrogators, who put him on an E-meter and grilled him for
hours until he confessed his sins. Joey also knew that he was at risk for being declared a

12

Suppressive Person,

Further humiliation came when the Church imposed a $39,000 bill for Scientology
counseling and courses that he had completed under the billion-year contract.

Izzy told Joey that he had to pay off this debt to the Church
by working at the Gallery. Joeys parents also requested that he remain with the Church in the
hope that he would be turned straight (PSR 42).8
So Joey left the Sea Org and began working at his parents gallery, which also was
established, to a degree, according to the dictates of Scientology. (Probation letter, Ex. J 48;
Scientology Business Contract, Ex. E).
began working at the Gallery,

when

was forced to sign an L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology)

In the 1950s, Scientologys founder, L. Ron Hubbard, referred to homosexuals as sexual


pervert[s] who were ill physically. He described them as subversive and advocated that
they be uniformly institutionalized or dispose[d] of quietly and without sorrow.
Going Clear, p. 382-83. As homosexuality later gained acceptance in the general population,
Hubbard softened his public statements; however, because everything Hubbard wrote is
sacrosanct in the church, these early views are indelibly fixed in the minds of many
Scientologists. Long after the founders death it was still generally believed that auditing would
sort out homosexuality. Going Clear, p. 383.
13

Business Management contract

letter, Ex. D, p. 18), a copy of which is attached as

Exhibit E.9

In an effort to recruit more members (and money), the Church provides business services
through the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), an arm of the Church that
aggressively promotes its teachings in the workplace. Joeys parents were members of WISE
and all Gallery employees had to sign a Scientology business contract. See World Institute of
Scientology Enterprises (WISE), http://www.wise.org/en_US/membership/about/index.html
(according to the About section, WISE provides management technology and disseminate[s]
the administrative works of renowned author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard to use in
organizational, professional and private endeavors.); In the Matter of Andrew W. Engel, et al.,
Before the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries of the State of Oregon (Case No.
38-11) (Sept. 13, 2012) (woman awarded over $325,000 for emotional and mental suffering after
she was improperly constructively fired for refusing to follow her employers order to attend a
Scientology seminar).

14

Not only did Joeys parents subject him to the debilitating abuses of the Church, but
outside of the Church, Izzy exercised a tyrannical grip over Joey and did everything in his
power to enslave Joey, mentally, spiritually and sexually

letter, Ex. D, p. 1-2). This

scathing criticism was offered by


letter, Ex. D, p. 1; see

letter, Ex. D, p. 25). With remarkable candor,

described how Izzy negatively dominated every aspect of Joeys life.

15

[After Joey left the Sea Organization] at age 23, and with absolutely no worldly
experience, Joey went to work for his father. Until his father fell ill three years
ago, Joey had no personal bank account, a business credit card with a low limit,
and he did not know what his salary was. His father, and
, the company
accountant,[10] completely managed his affairs. This was, according to Izzy,
because Joey could not manage money and because the business had to pay
Scientology for Joeys debt. The family knew of Joeys struggle with his sexual
identity, but his father never discussed this with Joey, and maintained the usual
Scientology line declaring that homosexuality was a destructive deviation that
could be fixed by accepting Scientology principles.
letter, Ex. D, p. 2). Another

condemned

Izzy and his wife because they have not been good parents to Joey

letter, Ex. D, p. 26).

They denied Joey an education and [h]is whole life has been controlled in a way which I
wouldnt agree with and which I believe has been harmful to him

letter, Ex. D, p. 26).

While Joey was never physically abused by his father, Joey viewed his father as a
frightening man, who became physically threatening with little provocation.
letter, Ex. B, p. 2;
Probation letter, Ex. J 41). Izzy commanded unquestioning obedience from Joey and insisted:
When I say jump, you better f---ing jump!

letter, Ex. B, p. 2).

The crippling combination of abuse, repression, and domination by Joeys father and the
Church made Joey incredibly submissive when dealing with authority. He had been raised to
believe that disobeying authority within the Church was a high crime, punishable by
disconnection. While Joey timidly questioned authority (both his father and the Church) -- he
never challenged either. The repercussions made this unthinkable.
in treating cult victims

an expert

concluded that Joey learned how to

behave in a manner intended to keep the people around him from harming him.

10

16

letter, Ex. B, p. 3). It is within the context of this disturbing reality that this Court must evaluate
Joeys crimes against protected wildlife.
I.M. Chait Gallery & the Offense
In 1969, after gaining an appreciation for Asian art while serving in Vietnam, Izzy began
a business from his living room and developed it into the auction house now known as I.M. Chait
Gallery

letter, Ex. D, p. 12). This auction house specializes in Asian antiques, a

portion of which previously included items made of ivory and rhinoceros horn. The ivory and
rhinoceros horn carvings sold by the Gallery at auction were works of art valued for their artistry
and beauty, and not solely for the material with which they were made. The most valuable
pieces offered for auction (which, on occasion, included ivory or rhinoceros carvings) were
prominently placed on the covers of the auction catalogues, and some examples, including the
Guanyin sculpture, which was part of the governments sting operation, are attached as Exhibit
A.
Joey understood that some of the artwork was more recent but also believed that most of
the carved rhinoceros horn and ivory artwork that the Gallery offered for sale at auction were
pre-CITES (removed from the wild before the 1976 adoption of the CITES regulatory scheme),
and he witnessed his fathers refusal, at times, to accept ivory and rhinoceros horn carvings that
were of recent origin.11 Pre-CITES pieces were crafted at a time when such artwork was legal
and acceptable throughout the world.

11

Joey believed that his father was able to determine, based on his years of expertise, the
approximate age of rhinoceros horn and ivory items. Joey was not able to do so and did not
know how his father made such determinations. The government has employed experts to assist
in such determinations. See, e.g., United States v. Victor Gordon (11-cr-517, E.D.N.Y.), Govt
Sent. Memo, DDE 51, p. 9-10.
17

Joey mistakenly believed that, as long as the ivory or rhinoceros horn artworks were preCITES, it was legal to buy and sell them. In fact, during a July 1, 2011 recorded phone call with
the undercover agent in this case, Joey recounted how a couple of years ago someone in China
needed an export certificate and the Gallery contacted the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which
provided the required form because the Gallery demonstrated that the item was pre-1976 (or
pre-ban). Probation letter, Ex. J 11).
Joey did not understand why the antique label was important, except to the extent that
some clients only collected antiques (wildlife and other). During a June 2, 2011 recorded call
with the same undercover agent, the agent told Joey that another auction house wanted
paperwork demonstrating that a black rhinoceros piece (that the agent and Joey were discussing)
was over 100 years old. Joey explained that the other company was probably concerned about
bad publicity from PETA and others.
Joeys beliefs regarding the relevant age requirements for ivory and rhinoceros horn were
partially correct and his confusion is understandable (see discussion above regarding regulations
pertaining to ivory and rhinoceros horn). To say that the regulations lack clarity is an
understatement. It is difficult enough for an attorney to decipher the labyrinth of state and
federal regulations, and by comparison, Joey had very little formal education. This certainly
does not excuse Joeys knowing violations of the law (i.e., his efforts to avoid the permit
regulations). However, it explains why he may have had a mistaken view of the various age
requirements and it shows his intent to comply with that part of the law that he believed ensured
that the items the Gallery was selling did not fuel current poaching efforts.
The Gallery employed approximately thirteen to fifteen people, including Joey and his
two brothers. Joey was the Senior Auction Administrator, Jake handled consignors and the

18

natural history items (dinosaurs, fossils, meteorites, taxidermy, etc.), and Josh was the office
manager. As the Senior Auction Administrator, Joey worked with the auctions buyers, assisting
with the auction bids, the collection of money, and customer service. Joey had no decisionmaking authority, and although he once had an assistant for a short time, he did not otherwise
supervise anyone. The brothers all had completely separate jobs and there was very little
discussion among them about the business; Joeys office was in front of the building and Jake
was in the back in the warehouse area (the building was approximately 12-15,000 square feet).
Izzy was not grooming any one person to take over the business, rather, it appeared that he was
preparing the three brothers to collectively handle the Gallery, each focusing on a distinct piece
of the business so no one brother had full control, authority or understanding.
Izzy had total control of the business and was in charge of all of the buying as well as
policies and procedures. Everything Joey did at work was under the direction and supervision
of his father

letter, Ex. D, p. 3). As captured in a recorded phone call, Joey did not

even have the authority to give a customer -- an undercover agent who had just won a bid for a
$190,000 item -- an auction paddle (worth pennies) without permission from Izzy, the big
boss. (Sept. 27, 2011 recorded phone call). See Probation letter, Ex. J 11.
employee of the Gallery from

an

confirmed Izzys micromanagement style; [e]very

aspect of the auction house was controlled by Izzy, and he even went so far as to review every
email

sent to clients

letter, Ex. D, p. 18).

As reflected in Joeys plea, at various times, he violated the regulations requiring export
permits for ivory, rhinoceros horn and coral. In some instances, Joey directly violated the permit
regulations, and in other instances, he failed to verify that the regulations were followed,
realizing, most likely, that they were being ignored. (PSR 18; Joey Chait letter, Ex. C, p. 1).

19

In both situations, Izzy directed Joey to commit the offense in accordance with his mantra:
dont screw up the sale.
More specifically, to avoid the export permit requirement, Joey falsified invoices by
changing the shipping description of certain art carvings made from rhinoceros horn and ivory
(e.g., labeling them as wood or bone) and reducing the stated purchase price. (PSR 18). The
first time Joey falsified an invoice was at the request of a customer. Upon receiving the request,
Joey asked his father, Izzy Chait, what to do, and (consistent with Izzys standing order to not
mess up the sale), Izzy directed Joey to do as the customer asked. Joey complied and then, on
subsequent occasions, continued this practice. Usually, Joey would tell customers that ivory
could not be shipped internationally, but if the customer persisted, Joey would suggest using a
false invoice. Joey knew that it was illegal to falsify the invoices and send these items out of the
country without the proper permits

Plea Allocution; PSR 18; Joey Chait letter,

Ex. C, p. 1). However, he did this because he did not want to disobey his father and mess up
the sale; it was easier for the customer if he falsified the invoice, as opposed to obtaining a
permit, and Joey had the (admittedly short-sighted view) that it also was easier for him if he did
not question his fathers authority. (Plea Allocution; Joey Chait letter, Ex. C, p. 1).
In addition, Joey occasionally shipped art carvings made from ivory and rhinoceros horn
to U.S. based third parties, such as UPS stores or friends/family members of the buyers. Joey
understood that the artwork would be sent out of the United States, but he never verified that the
buyers obtained the required export permits (Plea Allocution). The first time that this issue
arose, Joey asked Izzy what to do and Izzy characteristically responded, dont mess up the
sale. Again, Joey complied.

20

Also, the Gallery sold ivory, rhinoceros horn and coral artworks to buyers who came
from China. Joey knew from their flight itineraries that they were soon returning to China with
the items (if the items were leaving the country, no sales tax was due). Joey never verified that
the buyers obtained the required permits. However, given the timing, he understood that the
artwork the customers had purchased would be leaving the country without permits. (Plea
Allocution; PSR 18).
As Joey explains:
I knew that it was wrong to falsify customs forms, and I knew that some of our
international buyers were taking these pieces of art out of the country without the
proper permits. I kept my mouth shut when I knew it was wrong, and I broke the
law.
It bothered me at the time, and it continues to bother me today. I should have said
something. I should have stood up to my father and spoke my mind. I should not
have made false statements on those shipping forms or turned a blind eye when I
knew carvings that buyers purchased at our art gallery would be taken out of the
country. If only I had listened to my own judgments, instead of following the
orders I was given, I would not be standing before you for sentencing.
(Joey Chait letter, Ex. C, p. 1).
On several occasions Joey asked his father if they could stop selling ivory. A few
conversations occurred after a number of auction houses in California were searched. Izzy
insisted on selling the ivory, claiming that it was legal. However, Izzy directed that all of the
ivory be moved to the warehouse so that it would not be on the auction floor. As usual, Joey did
not challenge his fathers decision. (Joey Chait letter, Ex. C, p. 1). In Joeys words:
Several years before Fish & Wildlife came to the Chait Gallery with a search
warrant in January 2013, I asked my father several times to please stop selling
ivory carvings. He would laugh and tell me that he could do whatever he wanted,
and that it was perfectly legal. Most were antiques, but I still was not happy about
it. He did not care about my feelings and told me to do whatever it took to make
the sale.

21

(Joey Chait letter, Ex. C, p. 1).


As

related, [Joey] should have known better as time went on he

kn[e]w better but he was struggling in a web of deceit created by the man he most cared about,
and who could manipulate every aspect of his life

letter, Ex. D, p. 3). When his Father

told him that it was financially imperative to accede to all customer demands he believed his
Father even while he knew that what he was doing was wrong. Again and again, Joey said we
shouldnt his Father said we should and Joey capitulated

letter, Ex. D, p. 3).

Notably, while there were certainly multiple instances where the Gallery avoided the
permit requirements, there was no policy to simply ignore the law. The Gallery had obtained
permits in the past (7/1/11 recorded call; Probation letter, Ex. J 11) and Joey witnessed his
fathers refusal to accept artwork made of new ivory or rhinoceros horn. Significantly, Joey did
not believe that his conduct contributed to current poaching efforts. As Joey informed the
government during a proffer session, he believed that most of the rhinoceros horn and ivory
artworks were pre-CITES originating more than a quarter of a century ago.12

12

The parties have agreed that the market value of the items involved in the offense is
approximately $1 million, which includes artistic carvings of wildlife items that were shipped or
hand-carried from the Gallery for expected international destinations without the requisite
permits. The artistic rhinoceros horn carving of Guanyin, which was the item the government
used in its sting operation in this case, was the most expensive item identified in the Information.
While the Gallery estimated the value of this statue to be $30,000 to $50,000, in its published
auction catalog (Ex. A), the statue ultimately sold for $231,800 (including the premium). The
inflated price of this statue was largely caused by the government agent who engaged in a
bidding war at the auction. The final price was between 4.6 to 7.8 times the published estimated
price, and double or triple the expected market value. In a recorded conversation, Joey told the
undercover agent that he believed that the item would have sold for $80,000 to $100,000.
Indeed, the undercover agent stated that it seemed that the other bidders dropped out when the
price reached $100,000. This bidding war resulted in a 10% increase in the overall value of the
items listed by the government in the Information. See Recording of 9/25/11 auction; 9/27/11
recorded conversation between Joey and undercover agent; Probation letter, Ex. J 12; Images
and value estimate of Guanyin statue in Gallery auction catalog, Ex. A.
22

Significantly, Joey did not make any personal profit on these sales. In fact, Joey did not
even know the amount of his salary, had no control over the salary that the Gallery deposited into
his bank account, and did not receive a commission. Joeys father provided Joey with a credit
card, but limited his spending to $1,000 per month (gas, food, clothing).

(the companys

bookkeeper) deposited Joeys paychecks into his account and used the money to pay Joeys
mortgage and other bills, as directed by his father Joey did not see his paychecks or have his
own checking account. (Joey Chait letter, Ex. C, p. 2).
Joey committed these crimes out of expediency and a fear of challenging the authority of
his father by disobeying his directive make the sale, even if he broke the law. While this does
not justify Joeys actions, his intent is certainly not at the same level as one who commits these
violations for personal financial gain.
Izzy Chaits Incapacitation
In January 2013, the government executed a search warrant at the Gallery. In April 2014,
Izzy had a massive heart attack, which caused a significant loss of oxygen to his brain; he was in
a coma for two months, and hospitalized for five months. Consequently, Izzy suffered brain
damage and can no longer write, has very limited recall, and does not know the day or year. He
subsequently was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer that has spread to his lymph nodes.
While Joey was devastated by his fathers deteriorating health, for the first time in his
life, he was independent. Since then, he has desperately tried to make up for his past
transgressions. In June 2014, approximately two months after Izzy became incapacitated, Joey
implemented the Gallerys new policy: We are no longer selling any art/antiques that contain in
whole or part, any wildlife items of any kind. This includes ivory, coral and rhino horn (Policy,
Ex. F; Probation letter, Ex. J 9). In addition, he mandated that all customs forms contain the

23

actual price of the item sold and that all customers who pick up an item at the Gallery pay sales
tax even if they plan on leaving the state. (Policy, Ex. F)
Joey Chaits Cooperation with the Government
By early 2015, despite the fact that the government was continuing to investigate
and knowing his decision could carry serious consequences for those whom he loved
dearly, Joey made the difficult and courageous decision to cooperate with the government.
Beginning in February 2015, Joey began attending a series of proffer sessions two very long
days of meetings with federal prosecutors in New Jersey, two days of meetings with federal
prosecutors in New York, and numerous telephone calls -- and he engaged in proactive
cooperation. Joey detailed the Gallery operations, and also provided information regarding a
long list of other individuals and entities whom he understood were engaging in wildlife
smuggling activities.
Joey also offered ideas regarding how to lure into this country a prominent government
target believed to be smuggling wildlife out of the United States. At the direction of the
government and at risk to himself and his family, Joey communicated directly with the target by
telephone and email, and also allowed the government to use his identity to create a second,
government-controlled email account managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This
email account was used for undercover communications as part of Joeys assistance in
successfully attracting the target from China to the United States. On the days that the target was
in the United States, Joey remained on standby, ready to make consensual recordings as planned,
and was awaiting instructions from the government. At the very last minute, the government
changed course, and decided instead to approach and interview the target, who later left the
country without being apprehended.

24

Initially, venue for Joeys case was in New Jersey. In April 2014, even before the
successful lure of the target from Asia, the prosecutors confirmed that Joey already had provided
substantial assistance to warrant a sentencing departure motion by the government pursuant to a
U.S.S.G. Section 5K1.1 Letter. Thereafter, in June 2014,

, who also

was a target of the investigation, refused the governments request that he waive objections to
venue in New Jersey. At the same time, Joey willingly told the government that he would
consent to his case continuing in whatever jurisdiction would be most helpful to his continued
cooperation with the government. Thereafter, the government informed Joey that his case, and
the investigation

was being transferred to New York. Joey dutifully agreed to

consent to venue in New York (Plea Agmt., p. 1), and confirmed that he would continue to be
fully cooperative with the government.
In July 2015, Joey flew from southern California (the only place he has lived in his life)
to meet with prosecutors in New York over two days, and also provided them with follow-up
information after those in-person meetings. The governments questioning shifted at that time to
investigations and potential targets based in New York. In August 2015, Joey then received the
devastating news that, despite his significant efforts to cooperate up to that point, the U.S.
Department of Justice had changed course and would be declining to offer a 5K1.1 letter because
Joeys efforts were not sufficiently fruitful in leading to the prosecution of another person. The
prosecutors did, however, promise to inform the Court fully regarding Joeys significant efforts
to cooperate.
Even after the government changed course on the 5K1.1 motion, though Joey was
surprised and distraught, he did not evidence any anger or bitterness that might be expected
under the circumstances. Instead, he accepted this detour with grace and simply asked if there

25

was another way he could help, and another way he could work to make things right. And
thereafter, even understanding it was not for substantial assistance credit, Joey continued to
provide, through his attorney, potential leads of wildlife smuggling crimes of which the
government might be interested (yet none were in New York).
Joey signed the plea agreement and pleaded guilty to the Information in 2016, and has
remained willing to cooperate with the government. He also has offered himself for training or
outreach if there are positive ways where he could help others to learn from his mistakes, and
right the wrongs of his and the Gallerys conduct.
Sadly, had Joey been more of a player in this space, he could have been more useful as
a government cooperator. His shortcomings were not based on a deficiency of effort or
earnestness Joey gave those to the government in spades -- but rather on his lack of
connections and any true understanding of how the underground wildlife smuggling market
worked. This further underscores how Joey was a pawn in a game far beyond his understanding.
He knew enough that what he was doing was wrong, and for that he is pleading guilty and takes
full accountability. Yet, despite his unqualified and absolute efforts to make amends and better
his outcome by fully cooperating, even proactively, with the government, he did not know
enough to wheel and deal in a way that would make him a substantial cooperator worthy of a
formal government departure motion. Thankfully, however, the Court has the discretion to take
all this into account pursuant to the Section 3553(a) factors when fashioning an appropriate
sentence.
Collateral Consequences of this Case

26

***
***
One might say, Good, let this be a fresh start for him; but because of his
Scientology upbringing, his restart comes devoid of an accredited education,
lacking a multitude of basic life skills, and it comes tarnished by a lifetime of
being told that the only thing he can do is obey.
letter, Ex. D, p. 14). While Joey acknowledges that he committed a serious offense, he
will likely experience additional punishment that is irrefutably unnecessary and cruel.
As part of his guilty plea, Joey also has agreed to a lifetime ban on the import, export,
trade, purchase, or sale of any items made from or containing CITES-listed wildlife species and
species identified as endangered under the Endangered Species List, including rhinoceros horn,
elephant ivory or coral. (Plea Agmt., p. 3.) Shortly after his fathers heart attack, despite being
under no legal requirement to do so, Joey had self-imposed this restriction at the Gallery, which
is more stringent than the applicable regulations require.
Joey Chaits Health Condition

27

Community Service
Joey Chait was incarcerated for most of his life, as part of a cult where he was punished
for recognizing and acting on his own instincts and judgments. He struggled with that for years,
discovering and finally admitting his sexual orientation, fighting against Scientologys efforts to
cure him from being gay, and questioning (albeit ineffectively) his fathers business practices
regarding wildlife. He was denied a proper education and, having only served the church and his
fathers business, has never worked outside of a Scientology-controlled organization. He has
finally made progress toward, in his words, growing up and living an independent life. He has
pled guilty despite ongoing investigations regarding his family, and cooperated to his full
capacity. He also is working toward obtaining a formal education and considering alternative
career options.

28

To incarcerate him now, under all the facts and circumstances of this case and the history
and characteristics of Joey, would be a grave injustice. Instead, this kind and gentle man should
be sentenced to a term of community service to right his wrongs. That would be a just and
efficient result in this case and a resolution that best serves the interests and goals of society and
the Sentencing Guidelines. He is willing to help educate others to learn about wildlife
conservation; volunteer at a refuge center (the US Fish & Wildlife Service Seal Beach Refuge
Center is within 30 miles of his home); or do any other appropriate community service that
would benefit society and the goals of the Sentencing Commission and this Court.
As

stated:

My assessment is that his actions during the incident are in line with his
conditioning and learned survival instincts both as a result of his fathers
frightening and intimidating behavior as well as his traumas and abuses in
Scientology. Yet, I also want to note that, when describing his conduct at the
gallery, Mr. Chait said that he realized he was responsible for his actions and
wanted to explain, but not make excuses for, his decisions. He told me that he
has entered a guilty plea to federal felony charges, and takes accountability for his
actions.
In speaking with Mr. Chait, it is clear that he is committed to using this
experience as a positive step in owning his decisions and conduct, and breaking
from the lifetime of control and dominance that he suffered under Scientologys
directives. To that end, Mr. Chait has taken positive steps to proceed on a more
independent path in life, including reaching out for critically important mental
health counseling and treatment, and seeking education beyond the limited
Scientology schooling. Also, for the first time in his adult life, he is finally
considering alternative career options.
In my professional opinion, incarcerating Mr. Chait at a critical juncture, when he
is finally: breaking free from a dominant, abusive, frightening and suppressive
cult environment; seeking experienced professional help to guide his positive
recovery and heal; and progressing toward a belated transition into adulthood and
independence, would be a tragic and unjust irony.
I believe Mr. Chait can more effectively obtain the necessary mental health
treatment, as well as educational and vocational training, outside of jail, and that
29

with similar trauma:


letter,
Ex. D, p. 6;

letter, Ex. D, p. 10).

described how Joey wanted to make

others happy

even when Joey was facing a crisis

given the criminal case and his fathers health

letter, Ex. D, p. 1).


also explained how Joey quietly, without

fanfare, naturally seeks to help others. She described his thoughtfulness in the realm of everyday
life, from encouraging

, to visiting

in the hospital, and quietly helping

Joey requires

nothing in return. Nothing. Simply put, it brings him joy to help others. (

letter, Ex. D,

p. 16-17).
Finally, despite the pain that Joeys father has caused,

recognized, with

admiration, that Joey apparently was not capable of feeling bitterness.

Joey is a kind soul [and]not


capable of hurting anyone.
letter, Ex. D, p. 12-13).

31

A Non-Custodial Sentence is Warranted


Under the post-Booker advisory sentencing structure, when determining the appropriate
sentence, courts shall consider the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and
characteristics of the defendant. 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(1). Courts shall impose a sentence
sufficient, but not greater than necessary:
(A)
to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law,
and to provide just punishment for the offense;
(B)
to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct;
(C)
to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and
(D)
to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training,
medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner.
3553(a)(2). Courts should also avoid unwarranted sentence disparities. 3553(a)(6).
Other wildlife cases throughout the country support a non-custodial sentence for Joey.
Between 2013 and 2015, approximately 50% - 67% of environmental/wildlife crimes resulted in
a probationary sentence, while only 20% - 30% resulted in prison-only sentences. The
remainder, involved a combination of prison, community confinement and probation. See U.S.
Sentencing Commission 2013, 2014, 2015 data files, Type of Sentence Imposed by Primary
Offense Category, fiscal years 2013, 2014, 2015.

32

Recent cases specifically involving ivory and rhinoceros horn, have resulted in sentences
ranging from probation (with house arrest) to 70 months in prison. Substantial variances were
often granted.13 Two cases, which resulted in sentences of probation and six months
imprisonment, warrant particular consideration. See United States v. Yiwei Zheng, (15-cr-92JRT/LIB, D. Minn.) (sentencing minutes attached as Exhibit G) and United States v. Hausman
(12-cr-576 - JPO, S.D.N.Y.) (sentencing minutes attached as Exhibit H). While the Zheng and
Hausman courts granted significant variances, the conduct of both defendants was more
egregious than Joeys. In those cases, both defendants personally profited (whereas Joey did
not); both defendants owned their businesses and were in charge of the operations (Joey was an
employee working under the direction of his father); the transactions at issue included raw
rhinoceros horn (Joeys transactions involved only artworks); there was no indication that either

13

The courts granted substantial variances in the following cases: United States v. Yiwei Zheng,
(15-cr-92-JRT/LIB, D. Minn.) (based on defendants good history, court varied downward from
30 months imprisonment to three years of probation which included 6 weekends of intermittent
confinement); United States v. Linxun Liao (15-cr-0420-LGS, S.D.N.Y.) (defendant smuggled
rhinoceros horn libation cups; court granted six-month variance from 30 months to 24 because
defendant stopped illegal activity before caught, sold allegedly antique cups which would not
have involved poaching, and would likely suffer immigration consequences); United States v.
Gene Harris (14-20354-CR-COOKE, S.D. Fla.) (Lacey Act violation in connection with
transaction involving rhinoceros horns; guideline range was 18-24 months but court sentenced
defendant to 3 years of probation, which included 6 months of home detention); United States v.
Hausman (12-cr-576-JPO, S.D.N.Y.) (court granted variance from 18 months imprisonment to 6
based on defendants advanced age); (United States v. Michael Slattery, Jr. (13-cr-615-JG,
E.D.N.Y) (defendant purchased and then sold four rhinoceros horns; government calculated
sentencing range of 24-30 months imprisonment but the court granted variance and imposed
sentence of 14 months); United States v. Felix Kha (12-cr-202, C.D. Cal.) (defendant pleaded
guilty to conspiracy, to purchasing dozens of raw rhinoceros horns to smuggle out of the United
States, money laundering and tax evasion; court granted a 17-month variance and sentenced
defendant to 46 months in prison due to his difficult childhood); United States v. Lin Feng Xu
(11-cr-777-JBW, E.D.N.Y.) (defendant attempted to smuggle out of the United States ivory
carvings that he placed in his suitcase at the behest of his father, for whom he worked; guidelines
were 10-16 months but court sentenced defendant to time served, which reflected the 1-2 days he
spent in jail following his arrest).
33

defendant cooperated (Joey provided proactive cooperation); and neither case involved the
compelling mitigating circumstances presented in Joeys case.
More specifically, in United States v. Yiwei Zheng, (15-cr-92-JRT/LIB, D. Minn.),
defendant was a university professor and also operated Crouching Dragon Antiques, an online
antiques store (Govt Sent. Memo p. 3, DDE 44). He pleaded guilty to two counts of an
indictment charging him with smuggling (18 U.S.C. 554) and violating the Lacey Act. For at
least five years, defendant had engaged in repeated acts of smuggling involving at least 300
items made of rhinoceros horn (including two raw horns) and elephant ivory valued at $1.1
million. He exported items without any CITES permits and filed a false customs declaration.
Defendants offense level was 19, which included a three-level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility. He had a criminal history category of I and therefore, the sentencing range was
30-37 months of imprisonment (the same range as Joeys). (Sent. Tr. p. 3-4, 7, Ex. G; Plea
Agreement, DDE 39; Govt Sent. Memo p. 2, 5, DDE 44).
In May 2016, the court granted a variance based on Zhengs good history and sentenced
him to three years of probation with intermittent confinement (six weekends in prison), a
$500,000 fine, and 150 hours of community service (Sent. Tr. p. 11-14, Ex. G). The court aptly
noted that this sentence did not promote unwanted disparities because the sentences in other
cases were all over the board and its hard to compare one person to another (Sent. Tr. p. 14,
Ex. G).
United States v. Hausman (12-cr-576, S.D.N.Y.) a case before this Court -- involved a
person who the prosecutor described as one of the most culpable defendants the government
had ever prosecuted. There, defendant operated an antiques business and bought/sold objects,
including those made from rhinoceros horn. Hausman had signed an agreement to voluntarily

34

cooperate with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to report illegal activity (this agreement
did not result from criminal conduct on Hausmans part) (Sent. Tr. p. 15-16, Ex. H)). In his
capacity as a cooperator, Hausman reported to FWS that a rhinoceros mount had been illegally
sold. After later learning that the sale had not been completed, he purchased the item himself
through a straw buyer. Following the purchase, he removed the real horns callously sawing
them off the mounted rhinoceros head in a parking lot -- and replaced them with fake horns to
deceive law enforcement into believing that the horns were legitimately in the straw purchasers
possession. Defendant also was dealing in raw rhinoceros horn and carving them himself for
profit. After defendant was charged in a different rhinoceros trafficking matter, defendant and
the straw buyer discussed destroying the evidence (i.e., the horns). Defendant was charged in
two counts with obstruction of justice (relating to the straw buyer transaction) and with a Lacey
Act violation for creating a false record in connection with a separate purchase of rhinoceros
horns for which he drafted a false receipt that the horns were over 100 years old. (Information,
DDE 16). Defendants offense level was 15, his criminal history category was I, and his
guideline range was 18-24 months (Sent. Tr. p. 5, Ex. H).
The Assistant United States Attorney, Richard Udell, stated that, I have been a wildlife
and pollution crime prosecutor for about 21 years. I cant think of a case that I have handled in
any district in the country where a defendant was more culpable (Sent. Tr. p. 13, Ex. H). The
government further argued that defendant sign[ed] himself up as an informant either to
eliminate the competition or to game the system so that he can benefit personally (Sent. Tr. p.
17, Ex. H). After considering the 3553 factors, the court varied downward, due to defendants
advanced age (67 years old), and sentenced him to six months in prison, twelve months of

35

supervised release, and a $10,000 fine. Defendant also forfeited $18,000 (Sent. Tr. p. 7, 33-38,
42-45, Ex. H).
That the defendants in Zheng and Hausman were entitled to substantial variances clearly
demonstrates that an even greater variance is warranted in Joeys case. Zheng and Hausman
were motivated by greed, whereas Joeys conduct resulted in no financial gain for him and is
largely attributable to years of mental and physical abuse by the Church and the authoritative
control of his father. Moreover, the collateral consequences of Joeys case will extend beyond
any punishment imposed by this Court. If Joey is declared a Suppressive Person, he is
potentially facing a life-long sentence.
Other cases involving rhinoceros horn and ivory also support a non-custodial sentence for
Joey. While Joeys imprisonment guideline range is 3037 months, sentences of this duration
are often imposed on defendants who engaged in conduct far more troubling than Joeys. An
examination of four cases illustrates this point. All of these cases involved owners of a business
who personally profited from the sales, none of the defendants cooperated proactively, some of
the defendants committed crimes in addition to the wildlife violations while others
bought/sold/exported raw ivory or raw rhinoceros horn (in one case, in massive quantities), and
none presented mitigating evidence that even compares to Joeys.
For instance, in United States v. Victor Gordon (11-cr-517, E.D.N.Y.) defendant was the
owner of Victor Gordon Enterprises, a Philadelphia store that sold African art and objects.
Defendant smuggled ivory (including raw ivory) into the United States and directed smugglers to
obtain the ivory directly from Africa. Defendant not only failed to obtain any permits and
directed that others falsify invoices, but he also stained some of the ivory so that it appeared to
be old (and not subject to regulation). See Superseding Information, DDE 30; Govt Sent.

36

Memo, DDE 51; Sent. Tr. 32-33, 42, DDE 65. As the government described, and the sentencing
court quoted, Over the course of more than a decade, the defendant amassed what the
government believes to be the largest collection of illegal elephant ivory in the United States
heretofore uncovered by law enforcement (Govt Sent. Memo p. 21, DDE 51; Sent. Tr. p. 26-27
(emphasis added)). The value of the ivory exceeded $800,000 (Sent. Tr. p. 32, 42). Moreover,
the governments expert determined that at least 86% of the ivory was acquired during the 1990s
or later and thus, the vast majority of the ivory was obtained after the African elephant was
added to the CITES Appendix I (Govt Sent. Memo p. 8-9; Sent. Tr. p. 48). The court sentenced
defendant to a guidelines sentence of 30 months in prison, 2 years of supervised release, 15 hours
per week of community service for a wildlife conservation organization, and a $7,500 fine.
Defendant agreed to forfeit $150,000 (offense level 19, criminal history category I, sentencing
range 30-37 months). (Sent. Tr. p. 42-45, 59-60).
In United States v. Xiao Ju Guan (14-cr-506, S.D.N.Y.), defendant was the owner of a
Chinese antiques store, which purchased/sold items made of coral, ivory, and on two occasions,
rhinoceros horn. Defendant smuggled approximately $500,000 worth of wildlife items out of the
United States and falsified documents to do so. When law enforcement searched defendants
store, they also discovered evidence of narcotics trafficking, specifically 50,000 ecstasy pills
(Sent. Tr. p. 39). While Guan attended multiple proffer sessions, he did not provide proactive
cooperation and he was not truthful (Sent. Tr. p. 38-39). Nevertheless, the court granted a sevenmonth variance and sentenced Guan to 30 months in prison due to family circumstances, the
increased harshness of incarceration due to his inability to speak English, and the voluntary work
he pursued at the prison. (offense level 21, criminal history category I, sentencing range of 37-46
months). (Sent. Memo, DDE 22).

37

In United States v. Qiang Wang (13-cr-452-KBF, SDNY), defendant, who operated an


antiques business, conspired to smuggle out of the United States, Asian art objects, including
those made from rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory, which were valued between $1 million and
$2.5 million. He exported the items without obtaining the necessary permits and he falsified the
customs declarations. The court was disturbed by Wangs pattern of not complying with the
law because it appeared that he was also evading taxes (Sent. Tr. p. 39). Furthermore, while
Wang attended six proffer sessions, the government in response to an inquiry from the court -informed the court that his cooperation did not support a below-guidelines sentence because he
was not entirely forthcoming, he was neither willing to be proactive, and his efforts did not rise
to the level of substantial assistance (Sent. Tr. p. 9-11). The court imposed a guideline sentence
of 37 months in prison (offense level 21, criminal history category I, sentencing range 37-46
months).
Finally, in United States v. Chris Hayes and Elite Estate Buyers, Inc., (14-cr-80201, S.D.
Fla.), defendant Hayes was the owner/operator of Elite Estate Buyers, an auction house that sold
(through auction and private sale) various items, including raw rhinoceros horns and objects
made from elephant ivory and coral. Defendant, and shipping companies located in the vicinity
of Elites offices, aided and abetted the falsification of records and shipping documents in order
to smuggle these items out of the United States. The fair market value of the raw rhinoceros
horns alone was over $400,000. The court found that a sentence based upon the value of the
items was reasonable because defendants profit (commission) increased with a corresponding
increase in the price of the items sold (Sent. Tr. p. 29). The offense level was 21, the criminal
history category was I, and the sentencing range was 37-46 months. (Joint Factual Statement,
DDE 27; Plea Agreement, DDE 26; Sent. Tr. p. 14). The court sentenced defendant Hayes to a

38

near-guidelines sentence of 36 months in prison (Judgment DDE 48).14 The auction house was
fined $1.5 million. See Sentencing Memoranda, DDE 39 & 42; Plea Agreement DDE 26; Joint
Factual Statement, DDE 27; Sent. Tr. p. 62.
Clearly, Joey does not deserve the same sentence as the defendants in Gordon, Guan,
Wang, and Hayes. Those defendants engaged in far more offensive and destructive patterns of
behavior.
Therefore, given the sentences imposed in other cases as well as the nature and
circumstances of Joeys offense, a non-custodial sentence is certainly sufficient, but not greater
than necessary to accomplish the sentencing goals set forth in 3553. There are no concerns
regarding personal deterrence. Joey has been punished, he will be further punished by this
Court, and the Church of Scientology will likely impose the most damaging punishment of all.
As to general deterrence, the government has prosecuted numerous cases where defendants have
received prison sentences. The general deterrent effect will not be impacted by Joeys case
because few defendants in these wildlife cases will come before any court with the mitigating
circumstances that are present here. Finally, a non-prison sentence will allow Joey the
opportunity to continue with much-needed treatment under the guidance of an experienced
therapist specializing in destructive cult recovery, which would not be available in prison.
Joey has admitted his guilt, and has tried to make amends including by proactively
cooperating with the government, and is prepared to accept whatever punishment this Court
imposes. The appropriate sentence, however, should recognize that Joeys crime is inextricably
intertwined with the devastating impact of years of abuse inflicted by his father and the Church

14

The court represented that it would reduce defendants sentence after the then-pending
revisions to the sentencing guidelines became effective (this will likely result in a two-point
reduction) (Sent. Tr. p. 73-74). A motion in this regard is expected shortly.
39

of Scientology, an incredibly dangerous cult that astoundingly, is permitted to operate under the
guise of a religious organization.
Taking into account all the circumstances of this very particular defendant and the unique
facts of his case, we respectfully submit that the appropriate sentence is a non-custodial one
involving significant and meaningful community service.

Dated: June 8, 2016


Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Judith H. Germano


Judith H. Germano, Esq.
GERMANO LAW LLC
460 Bloomfield Avenue, Suite 200
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
jgermano@germanolaw.com
(201) 247-7970
Attorney for Joseph Chait

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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that on June 8, 2016, I served Joseph Chaits Sentencing Submission
(under seal) on the following by email and Federal Express:
AUSA Elizabeth Hanft
United States Attorneys Office
Southern District of New York
1 St. Andrews Plaza
New York, New York 10007
elizabeth.hanft@usdoj.gov
AUSA Richard Udell
Environmental Crimes Section
United States Department of Justice
601 D Street, Room 2008
Washington, D.C. 20004
richard.udell@usdoj.gov

/s/ Judith H. Germano


Judith H. Germano, Esq.
GERMANO LAW LLC
460 Bloomfield Avenue, Suite 200
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
jgermano@germanolaw.com
(201) 247-7970
Attorney for Joseph Chait