San Rafael-Based Antique Dealer Charged for Offering Illegal Ivory for Sale

A San Rafael-based antique dealer has been charged in San Mateo County Superior Court with three counts of offering illegal elephant ivory items for sale at a gem show in San Mateo.

Tao Zeng, 53, who operates Mark & Period, Antique Asian Art, was arraigned before Court Commissioner Cristina Mazzei in Redwood City on Tuesday on three misdemeanor counts of violating a California Fish and Game Code provision that bans selling ivory or offering it for sale.

Zeng was not present at the arraignment and entered pleas of not guilty through her defense attorney, according to Chief Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti.

Mazzei scheduled a jury trial to begin on March 5. Zeng is free on her own recognizance while awaiting trial.

Guidotti said the three items Zeng is accused of offering for sale include a large clip, a string of beads and a bangle. They were seized by two state Fish and Wildlife Department wardens at the San Mateo International Gem and Jewelry Show on Sept. 11.

Zeng had a number of items for sale at her booth, according to prosecutors. A warden who was alerted to the possible sale of rhinoceros horn, which is also illegal under state law, approached Zeng's booth, Guidotti said.

While the warden was inspecting two suspected rhinoceros horns, a second warden allegedly saw Zeng put several items into a yellow bag and place the bag at her feet, according to Guidotti.

The wardens then seized several suspected ivory items from the bag, and the clip, string of beads and bangle were later analyzed in a laboratory and found to be elephant ivory, Guidotti said.

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