California shop owner admits selling rare-animal coats

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The owner of a vintage clothing store in San Francisco pleaded no contest Monday to misdemeanor charges she sold coats and other items made of cheetahs, leopards and other protected species.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a judge fined Cicely Ann Hansen $3,600 and sentenced her to probation and 500 hours of community service.

California Fish and Wildlife officers raided her store in February after two undercover wardens tried on coats made of ocelot and jaguar. Wardens seized 150 items made from sea turtles, seals, pythons and snow leopards.

Hansen, 68, said she is not a poacher and that the seized clothing was made decades ago, including several items that are more than 100 years old.

"If anything, this is just ignorance of a change in the law and unintentional," she said. "It's not like I'm a poacher. I have no interest in newer pieces. I have no interest in importing fur from China. I don't like the way the animals are killed or treated."

She says the case began with when a disgruntled worker called authorities and that the seized items were taken from her personal collection and weren't meant to be sold. Her store is located in the city's funky Haight Ashbury neighborhood, which is full of off-beat businesses that cater to nostalgia for the 1960s.

She wore a vintage yellow 1960s-era dress, an overcoat and a matching chicken feather hat to court Monday. She said business at her Decades of Fashion store remains brisk.

She pleaded no contest to two charges and prosecutors dropped seven other counts Monday.

"Individuals who traffic in these goods must be held accountable to eliminate a market that contributes to these species' demise," District Attorney George Gascón said after charging Hansen earlier in the year. "There's no second chance once these animals are gone."

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