SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — A vintage clothing dealer is facing a possible prison sentence of five years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines because of what she allegedly had for sale inside her Haight Street store–she is accused of selling furs and other items made from endangered species.
The merchant is speaking out, saying she’s done nothing wrong.
“These dresses up here are Civil War, that’s a beautiful old Japanese kimona,” self-described fashion historian Cicely Hansen said.
Hansen took cameras inside the back room of her vintage store where she keeps her more expensive and fragile pieces.
It’s the same room where undercover investigators from California’s Fish and Wildlife agency say last month they tried on a leopard skin coat with a $4,500 price tag and an ocelot coat costing $850.
Two weeks later, the Haight Street store called Decades of Fashion was raided. Agents reportedly seized over 150 items made from dead sea turtles, cheetahs, leopards, ocelots, jaguars, seals, pythons, and snow leopards.
Hansen is now facing nine misdemeanor counts of illegal possessing endangered species with the intent to sell them.
On Friday at a news conference flanked by her attorney, she says some of her personal property was seized.
“They had my grandmother’s leopard muff and my 1920s shoes for my grandmother, and just a list of things that were my own personal things that I’ve had for 40 and 50 years.”
She says fur sales represent only 1 percent of her business and what she has in her store has been dead for decades.
“When these things were taken down, these poor animals that were made into these furs back in the 40s, they weren’t considered endangered,” Hansen said. “I know that sounds a little indelicate but they were not. I don’t think…had the consciousness to even think about that.”
A spokesperson for the city’s district attorney’s office says the age of the endangered items don’t matter if the intent to sell exists.
“Species that are endangered should be protected,” Assistant San Francisco District Attorney Alex Bastian said. ” And all of us have a responsibility together to do all we can to preserve these creatures for generations to come.”
The shopkeeper is set to be arraigned on the charges next Wednesday.