How to React to a Confession of Smuggling ...

NB - if anyone involved in smuggling or stealing antiquities has issues with my less than rosey disposition today, please feel free to complain to the Cultural Section of the Swiss Embassy - +442076166035

Please note that I know nothing more about this story than I have read in the public domain.

So this is the story as reported in the Egyptian press:
Dealer admits smuggling Egyptian treasures to US
Mousa Khouli, also known as Morris Khouli, aged 38, faces up to 20 years of prison for "smuggling Egyptian cultural property into the United States and making a false statement to law enforcement authorities," the federal prosecutor's office in New York said.
And as recorded in the US Attorney's Office press release:
Mousa Khouli, also known as “Morris Khouli,” pleaded guilty today to smuggling Egyptian cultural property into the United States and making a false statement to law enforcement authorities. The defendant entered his plea before the Honorable Edward R. Korman, United States District Judge, at the U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment. The defendant also entered into a stipulation of settlement resolving a civil complaint seeking forfeiture of the Egyptian antiquities, Iraqi artifacts, cash and other pieces of cultural property seized in connection with the government’s investigation. 
 I genuinely believe that Democratic legal systems are what differentiate us from, say Colonel Gaddafi's Libya, and that people are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law or by their own freely given confession. I do not know who Mr Khouli's lawyer was, but if he could not afford one, the State would have provided him with one, and his confession at this stage implies that it was part of a plea agreement. People do not plead guilty if they genuinely feel they are innocent, unless they the evidence against them is overwhelming and ... Alford Pleas are allowed in Federal Court, but there is no evidence to suggest that Mr Khouli entered one.

Reasonable people would surely believe that someone who could afford a lawyer but chose to plead guilty ... probably was, beyond any reasonable doubt.

Archaeologist Paul Barford - "he's a loony" is a good paraphrase of some ACCG members' views of him (I do not feel he is, and have a great deal of respect for Barford, so this quote was highly sarcastic on my part), and those admiring Bruce Bartlett's fabulous new web site Bruce Bartlett Ink will have noted a good paraphrase can effectively summarise views - noted yesterday that the ACCG had temporarily suspended Mr Khouli last summer, but not yet booted him as a member now that he has plead guilty. See Future of Suspended ACCG Member Uncertain.

I cannot see an update on the ACCG web site under news (here for all of 2012) stating the steps the ACCG are taking. I had hoped Paul Barford had leapt the gun in pointing out that they had not clarified his permanent suspension under their statutes, and I hope that they will do so soon.

Wayne G. Sayles, who writes many of the "Balanced Views" news stories on the ACCG web site, can, I feel sure, be counted on to clarify the situation soon.

Peter K. Tompa, a well liked Washington DC lawyer who represents the ACCG (I like him a lot), also posts "Balanced Views" news stories on the ACCG web site. He has not clarified the situation on the ACCG web site, but he did on his own blog: Small Businessman Pleads Guilty to False Statements; Government Ignores Allegations of Misrepresentations to Congress. His points are worth quoting in full:
Morris Khouli, a New York antiquities and coin dealer, has plead guilty to smuggling and false statements to federal law enforcement. See http://www.justice.gov/usao/nye/pr/2012/2012apr18c.html.

Hopefully, the Court will not sentence Mr. Khouli to anywhere near the 20 year maximum for the offenses. Any such penalty would be very harsh for the conduct alleged in the indictment.

One must also question a system where a small businessman can potentially be sentenced to 20 years for falsifying import documents, but which ignores credible allegations that State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Employees misled Congress in an official report about CPAC's true recommendations concerning the controversial 2007 decision to impose import restrictions on coins.

And even worse, it is likely that some of the same employees who pressed for the prosecution of Mr. Khouli, also had something to do with any false declarations to Congress.

Peter's credential are impressive, and I can personally vouch for these ones:
Peter Tompa ... has written and lectured about cultural property issues for a decade. He is a contributor to a chapter on numismatics in K. Fitz Gibbon ed., "Who Owns the Past?" (Rutgers 2005). He has lobbied members of the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch in an effort to ensure that the small businesses of the numismatic trade receive fair treatment from federal regulators. He currently serves as a board member of the Cultural Policy Research Institute and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild. ... His advocacy has received notice in the media, including the New York Times, the Art Newspaper and the Voice of America.  
 Readers are however warned that:
This Web page is a public resource for general information and opinion about cultural property issues, and is not intended to be a source for legal advice.
So I hope that we have his full statement as the ACCG's lawyer on their web site soon.

I feel confident that the Board of the ACCG will, as soon as they are able to do so, terminate Mr Khouli's membership. One would not wish for any more collectors or dealers to make the mistaken assumption that the ACCG supports looting.


  1. Dorothy;

    Thank you for pointing out that any assumption that ACCG supports looting would be mistaken. As for the membership status of Mr. Khouli, that is an issue covered by the ACCG bylaws which are published on the guild web site. The ACCG will act as guided by those bylaws on this and every other case of decision making. The selection of material to be published on the guild website is one of the responsibilities of the Executive Director.

  2. Mr Sayles, I request that neither you nor any other ACCG Board Members neither email me nor leave messages on my blog until my attorney has been able to resolve the various issues your various attorneys, writing to me personally and professionally on behalf of the ACCG are claiming. I will consider any further contact to be harassment, as I have already asked ALL your lawyers to go through mine.

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