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NEWS: Head of Smithsonian Institute Pleads Guilty

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posted on Jan, 23 2004 @ 04:02 PM
The head of the Smithsonian Institute pleaded guilty today for possession and illegal ownership of remains of a protected species. In a US District Court located in Raleigh North Carolina, the reply to the charge was 'guilty' for the possession of feathers of a bird in a headdress, that is protected, making the mere ownership of them a felony offense.
A South American headdress that Small purchased before becoming secretary of the Smithsonian in January 2000 included feathers from endangered birds. Small was charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

It would appear that the head of the most prestigious museum in America, would be knowledgable in the legal ramifications of taking ownership of such protected items, especially since legal advice was sought before the purchase was made.
The plea agreement between the attorney's and US Federal prosecutors, resulted in a sentence of two years probation, 100 hours of community service and ordered him to send letters of apology and explanation to The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and National Geographic magazine.

[Edited on 23-1-2004 by SkepticOverlord]

posted on Jan, 23 2004 @ 05:29 PM
AP finally published a more complete story that describes the charges and ongoing investigation in more detail.

AP News

"Since my purchase, it has been confirmed that the collection entered the country illegally," Small wrote. "The issues at stake are so important that the burden must be placed on the individual to both know and comply with the law."

"I was unaware such conduct was prohibited," said Small, who purchased the collection for $400,000 from a woman in North Carolina in 1998. Investigators learned of the illegal feathers when someone complained.

U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said there was an ongoing investigation and he couldn't comment on whether others might be charged.

It all seems so innocent since all reports are about the feathers. In reading further it appears that there were 850 items imported, and yet there were some 150 items still being stored in Brazil.

Small, 62, a former Citicorp executive and former president of housing finance giant Fannie Mae, spent $1 million to create a gallery in a Washington condo for the collection, which contained about 1,000 pieces. Best said Small's interest in Amazonian artifacts began with his trips to Brazil on business for Citicorp.

[Edited on 23-1-2004 by smirkley]

posted on Jan, 24 2004 @ 04:13 PM

Now THAT's news! Good find.

Sounds like Small was behaving like a 'Freshman'.

posted on Jan, 24 2004 @ 05:28 PM
Yes MA, I could understand an ignorant mistake, but the scope of the collection as well as the positions of stature held in his career would lead me to believe that this was not just a tourist who picked something up with no knowledge of the laws.

I bet the head of the Smithsonian knows better than to go to Egypt and bring home pyramid artifacts for the coffee table.

I think the same should apply to Amazonian artifacts also.

IMO,...the sentence does not reflect the crime, but reflects how a person of such stature can circumvent the laws application, using IGNORANCE as a defence.

[Edited on 24-1-2004 by smirkley]


posted on Jan, 25 2004 @ 03:19 AM
of Hemp in the US according to some online websites. I entered hemp in their search engine and came up empty once. That may only mean I did not look hard enough. But it seems to me they should know better than to deny history. If anyone should know about history you 'd think they would. But this incident with the headdress shows they are not all that impeccable.

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