A well-known golf architect will go to prison for 30 days for importing products made from endangered animals to sell at his antique shop in Northern Virginia.
Keith Foster, 60, made his career for over three decades designing and restoring golf greens, including several famous championship courses. Foster is, in the words of his attorney, a “world-renowned golf architecture” designer. He also ran the Outpost antique shop in Middleburg, Va., as a charity operation, donating the profits.
But he turned his feel-good hobby into a criminal operation by smuggling blades, bags and decorative mounts made from endangered species.
Foster imported about $136,000 worth of products made from illegal endangered wildlife, including sea turtle, hippopotamus, swan and ivory, according to court records. He also imported porcupine quills, African game mounts, ostrich pieces, deer antlers and other animal parts without following regulations.
In court Friday, Foster said he was led astray by an employee who told him the store had a client who wanted a blade made from the critically endangered sawfish.
“I acquiesced,” Foster said. “I said we would never do it again. . . . I stopped selling all generally wildlife stuff.”
Judge Leonie M. Brinkema questioned those comments, noting that Foster himself bragged about illegal imports and that court records show he was selling endangered species until the Outpost was raided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents in late 2017. Brinkema said she thought a “brief” period of incarceration was necessary.
Illegal animal parts were not the specialty of Foster’s antique shop; the Outpost made most of its money selling furniture. In a court filing, prosecutor Gordon Kromberg suggested Foster was motivated not by greed or laziness but “a desire to seek the thrill of doing things that were forbidden.”
He has also paid a $275,000 fine. After pleading guilty, Foster lost contracts with Congressional Country Club in Bethesda and Olympia Fields Country Club near Chicago.
The antique business was supposed to be a relatively safe outlet for Foster’s extra energy, he told Golf Club Atlas in 2014, compared to his other hobby of mountaineering.
“I always tried to challenge myself,” Foster said. “My wife much prefers my Outpost venture to climbing.”