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2009-04-15 – Murphy giudicato colpevole (Murphy guilty)

Il paleontologo ameriano Nate Murphy é stato giudicato colpevole di aver trafugato resti di dinosauro da aree protette.

vedi pure:

2009-03-10 – Nate Murphy: noto paleontologo indagato per furto (paleontologist pleaded guilty to stealing)


Montana paleontologist pleads guilty to stealing dinosaur bones from BLM land
Posted on April 14
By MATTHEW BROWN of the Associated Press

BILLINGS – A Montana paleontologist whose discoveries brought widespread acclaim has pleaded guilty to a federal charge that he stole dinosaur fossils from federal land.

Nate Murphy’s work includes unearthing a mummified duckbill dubbed Leonardo, considered the best-preserved fossil in the world.

On Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, Murphy pleaded guilty to taking more than a dozen fossilized dinosaur bones from U.S. Bureau of Land Management land near Malta without having a permit. He had pleaded guilty last month in state court to stealing a raptor fossil from private land and trying to cash in on molds from the bones.

Law enforcement officials and other paleontologists said the cases underscore the growing problem of fossil theft, which is driven by the increasingly high prices rare specimens bring on the open market.

More than 200 law enforcement incidents involving fossils were tallied by the BLM over the last decade, federal officials say.

Murphy’s plea agreement in the federal case asks that his sentence not include jail time. Sentencing is set for July 9.

Following Tuesday’s hearing, U.S. Attorney Bill Mercer said he hoped the high-profile prosecution would deter others from committing similar crimes.

“This particular prosecution hopefully will send a strong message that if people do engage in that type of activity, there will be serious consequences in terms of legal action,” Mercer said.

Murphy, 51, is a self-taught paleontologist who runs a private paleo-outfitting business based in Billings. Prior to Tuesday’s hearing, he repeated that he was eager to get his side of the story out but had been advised by his attorney not to do so at this time.

Mercer said the case was made possible through the efforts of the BLM’s lead investigator, Special Agent Tom Madsen, 42, who died as the investigation was coming to a close. Madsen suffered a sudden illness.

“There really wouldn’t have been a case if he had not done the great work he did,” Mercer said. He added that Madsen “put his heart and soul into this.”

U.S. Magistrate Keith Strong initially refused to accept Murphy’s plea, after Murphy said he made a “mistake” in not accurately mapping where fossils were recovered, said assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Fehr, who prosecuted the case.

After speaking with his attorney, Mike Moses, Murphy clarified that pinpointing the exact location of fossil finds is standard scientific procedure and that he did not do so in two instances.

“This was not a mistake,” Fehr said. “If this was merely a mistake, it would not be sufficient for a criminal charge.”

In pleading guilty to theft of government property, Murphy admitted to acting with “willful ignorance or blindness” n meaning he knew his actions risked violating the law but he chose to ignore that fact.

The government’s offer of proof noted Murphy had a similar run-in with authorities in 1994. He was found to have removed a dinosaur nicknamed “Elvis” from BLM land without a permit, but no charges were filed.



Other links:

Montana paleontologist pleads guilty to stealing dinosaur bones

The Missoulian – ‎6 ore fa‎
On Tuesday in US District Court in Great Falls, Murphy pleaded guilty to taking more than a dozen fossilized dinosaur bones from US Bureau of Land

aprile 15, 2009 - Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, An. Vertebrates, Collezionismo, Commercio illegale, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , ,

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