Selling pangolin scales: Lawyer says client had material as remedy

Clackamas County

Lawyer for Agnes Yu says client was using material as medication

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Happy Valley woman previously charged with illegally selling shark fins is now accused of having sold pangolin scales.

Following an investigation, Agnes Yu was charged with felony Reckless Sale of Wildlife Illegally Imported and Sold Monday.

Yu “knowingly” sold wildlife that had been imported and sold contrary to the laws, treaties, and regulations in November of 2017, according to court documents. Pangolins are a species listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Prosecutors said Yu “procured and resold” 30 grams of said scales for approximately $165.

KOIN 6 reached out to Yu’s lawyer, Matt Schindler who told us the case is worth fighting the government over, however, it would be a costly endeavor with all the testing of evidence and so forth. He said settling makes more sense.

“If I were to ask the government now for a sample of these materials and try and go and get an independent lab, I am sure that it would cost double the $5,000 fine,” said Schindler. “Your lawyer is going to cost $50,000, and the labs are going to cost another $10,000, and your investigator is going to cost $20,000.”

According to Schindler, Yu was caught by an undercover agent at the time of the alleged offense. The agent approached Yu saying he was a recent immigrant from Asia and his wife was having significant problems producing breast milk.

“Apparently in traditional Chinese medicine, pangolin scales are considered to be something that is beneficial for [breastfeeding issues],” said Schindler.

As a result of the solicitation from the undercover agent, Yu contacted an import company in San Francisco that provided her with material that the company described as pangolin scales.

Schindler said the government should have done outreach with Yu instead of sending in an undercover agent. 

In 2019, Yu was cited for unlawfully selling dried shark fins out of Wing Ming Herbs on SE 82nd Avenue. Roughly a year later, she pleaded guilty to to one count of possessing, selling, or trading shark fin and was sentenced to 12 months bench probation, $1,000 in fines and $360 in restitutions for the Class A Misdemeanor.

A 2011 House Bill outlawed the possession, selling, trading, and distributing of shark fins.

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