We’ve been carving out a little dinosaur law beat over the last several months, thanks to the contentious auctioning off of a Mongolian Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton. The auction was interrupted when the Mongolian president’s attorney stood up and shouted, “I’m sorry, I need to interrupt this auction. I have a judge on the phone,” in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the sale.
Unfortunately for the anonymous million-dollar winning bidder, the dinosaur bones are stuck in limbo a little longer. Lawsuits have been flying around in the aftermath of the auction, and yesterday, New York police arrested the archaeologist who allegedly brought the bones to the U.S.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are leaving Jurassic Park and entering DaVinci Code Land. Please keep your hands and legs inside the vehicle…
Commercial archaeologist Eric Prokopi was arrested yesterday for looting dinosaur skeletons from Mongolia. Despite the criminal charges, this… this is f**king awesome. I didn’t think such fantastical alleged criminals existed outside Jason Statham movies. The WSJ Law Blog has a nifty quote from the Manhattan prosecutor:
“As alleged, our recent seizure of the Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton from Eric Prokopi was merely the tip of the iceberg — our investigation uncovered a one-man black market in prehistoric fossils,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.
Mr. Prokopi, 38, was arrested at his home in Gainesville, Fla., on Wednesday. He has been charged with conspiracy to smuggle illegal goods, smuggling goods into the U.S. and interstate sale and receipt of stolen goods. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the smuggling charge.
Prokopi also faces accusations of smuggling Mongolian Saurolophus, Gallimimus, and Oviraptor mongoliensis fossils, as well as Chinese Microraptor fossils.
But, uh, if you’re looking for some mint-condition pterodactyl parts, I know a guy who knows a guy.