NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Federal prosecutors said a deal has been reached to drop the criminal case against Gibson Guitar Corp. after the instrument maker acknowledged its exotic wood imports violated environmental laws.
Under the agreement announced Monday, Nashville-based Gibson agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty, forfeit claims to about $262,000 worth of wood seized by federal agents and contribute $50,000 to promote conservation of protected tree species.
"As a result of this investigation and criminal enforcement agreement, Gibson has acknowledged that it failed to act on information that the Madagascar ebony it was purchasing may have violated laws intended to limit overharvesting and conserve valuable wood species from Madagascar, a country which has been severely impacted by deforestation," said Assistant Attorney General Moreno in a statement. "Gibson has ceased acquisitions of wood species from Madagascar and recognizes its duty under the U.S. Lacey Act to guard against the acquisition of wood of illegal origin by verifying the circumstances of its harvest and export, which is good for American business and American consumers."
The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gibson's decision to cooperate with federal laws banning the import of endangered wood products stands in contrast to a 2011 publicity campaign mounted after agents raided Gibson facilities in Memphis and Nashville in 2009 and 2011.
Republicans and tea party members rallied behind CEO Henry Juszkiewicz as he denounced the raids as overzealous federal regulation that threatened American jobs.