Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dinosaur Skull Forfeited by Federal Judge in Eastern District of NY

Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch wrapped up another cultural property case yesterday. The matter of U.S. v. One Alioramus Dinosaur Skull came to a conclusion after a federal district court judge in Brooklyn ordered the dinosaur head's forfeiture.

No claimants appeared in court to oppose the civil forfeiture, even though French dealer Gefossiles, Inc. once tried to convince American authorities that all was proper with the company's dinosaur shipment. U.S. Customs seized the dinosaur skull in Newark, New Jersey in 2004.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York alleged in its forfeiture complaint filed in September that the head had been illegally imported into the U.S., and it was stolen property originating from Mongolia. A full description of the prosecution's allegations can be found here.

"Smugglers will falsify documents and lie about the origin and value of a cultural artifact just to get it across our borders to sell to the highest bidder," remarked James Hayes, Jr., Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge in New York. His team investigated the case. No arrests were made.

Now that the district court has forfeited the skull, it is expected to be sent back to Mongolia. Foreign officials first must file a petition for remission to have the object repatriated.

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