NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York U.S. District judge on Tuesday sentenced a Florida fossils dealer to three months in prison for smuggling a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton out of Mongolia.
Eric Prokopi of Gainesville, Florida, also will serve three months in community confinement.
Federal prosecutors said Prokopi smuggled the bones of the Tyrannosaurus bataar from the Gobi Desert into the U.S. and then assembled them.
It was seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after it was sold at auction in New York City for more than $1 million in 2012. The deal was suspended.
Investigators found 400 pounds of fossils in Prokopi’s home, he pleaded guilty to charges related to fossil smuggling, CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported last year.
The government said the dinosaur skeleton was mislabeled as reptile bones from Great Britain.
“(They smuggled it in by) saying that it came from countries that it didn’t, saying it was something it wasn’t,” ICE Director John Morton told “CBS This Morning” last year. “This was a very large dinosaur. Hundreds of bones had to be brought in actually from the rock in which it was dug up in the Gobi Desert and then ultimately assembled here in New York.”
By law, any dinosaur fossils found in Mongolia belong to the country and its people.
Robert Painter, attorney for the Mongolian government, told CBS This Morning last year that these kinds of sales drive a black market.
You may also be interested in these stories:
- Australian Tourist May Have Exposed Museum-Goers To Measles, NYS Health Officials Say
- ‘Everyone Is Safe:’ Potential Threat Prompts Security Scare At New Jersey High School
- New Jersey Police Search For Missing Teen With Autism
- Unions Stage ‘Day Of Action’ Rallies Ahead Of Supreme Court Case
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)