- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Three people have admitted to purchasing what they thought were bear gallbladders in a sting operation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Tuan Pham and Hoa Huynh of Kentwood and Hoang Tran of Wyoming pleaded guilty to the taking of bear parts in Grand Rapids District Court, The Grand Rapids Press (http://bit.ly/1iZFr3O ) reports. Pham also entered a guilty plea for buying walleye caught by someone without a fishing license.

“I did wrong,” Pham told a judge Thursday.

Department of Natural Resources agents working in a November 2014 sting told the suspects they were buying bear gallbladders, but they were actually taken from roadkill, according to attorneys.

Bile extracted from bear gallbladders is believed in some cultures to have medicinal properties. DNR officials believe the suspects in the Kent County case bought the gallbladders for personal use.

The sale of bear parts is banned in all but a handful of states. Sale of the parts can garner hundreds of dollars, and bear parts often sent overseas.

Prosecutors agreed not to add more charges and stay out of sentencing in return for the guilty pleas. Tran’s jail term is capped at five days under the plea, while the others face up to 90 days in jail for the charge.

Sentencing will likely happen next month.

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press, http://www.mlive.com/grand-rapids

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