A man who stirred up an interntaional controversy by smuggling a previously-unnamed orchid back from a trip to Peru has pleaded guilty in federal court in Tampa to a reduced misdemeanor charge, The St. Petersburg Times reports.
Michael Kovach, an orchid collector from Virginia for whom the plant now has been scientifically named, bought three of the orchids as a roadside stand in the Andes in 2002. He showed them to a mentor in the orchid collection field who told him he’d found the “Holy Grail of orchids.” He gave two of the plants to his mentor and brought one back to the U.S. through Miami. Wild orchids are protected by international treaty as endangered species. A botanical garden Kovach had examine the plant and one of its experts also were federally charged with illegally possessing the plant and have pleaded guilty.