Florida Man Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Dinosaur Fossils And Agrees To Forfeit Multiple Dinosaur Skeletons

28 Dec 2012 9:57 AM | Anonymous

Florida Man Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Dinosaur Fossils And Agrees To Forfeit Multiple Dinosaur Skeletons

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ERIC PROKOPI pled guilty today to engaging in a scheme to illegally import the fossilized remains of numerous dinosaurs that had been taken out of their native countries illegally and smuggled into the United States. As part of his plea agreement, PROKOPI agreed to consent to the forfeiture of a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton (the “First Bataar”), which was looted from Mongolia and sold at auction in Manhattan for over $1 million. The First Bataar was the subject of a separate civil forfeiture action pending before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel. PROKOPI also agreed to forfeit a second nearly complete Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton, a Saurolophus skeleton, and an Oviraptor skeleton, all of which had been in his possession and were recently recovered by the government. In addition, PROKOPI will forfeit his interest in a third Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton believed to be located in Great Britain. All of the fossils are of Mongolian origin. The skeleton of a Chinese flying dinosaur that PROKOPI illegally imported has already been administratively forfeited. PROKOPI pled guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Fossils and ancient skeletal remains are part of the fabric of a country’s natural history and cultural heritage, and black marketeers like Prokopi who illegally export and sell these wonders, steal a slice of that history. We are pleased that we can now begin the process of returning these prehistoric fossils to their countries of origin.”

According to the Criminal Complaint, the Amended Civil Forfeiture Complaint, the Information, the plea agreement, and statements made in Manhattan federal court:



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