Doing time over fossils.Peter L. Larson, a commercial fossil dealer, began serving a 2-year sentence last month for violating U.S. Customs limits and for stealing fossils from federal land. The sentence was handed down Jan. 29, following Larson's conviction last year.
The president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, S.D., Larson is best known for discovering a largely complete Tyrannosaurus Tyrannosaurus (tīrăn'ōsôr`əs, tĭr–) [Gr.,=tyrant lizard], member of a family, Tyrannosauridae, of bipedal carnivorous saurischian dinosaurs characterized by having strong hind limbs, a muscular tail, and short rex specimen in South Dakota South Dakota (dəkō`tə), state in the N central United States. It is bordered by North Dakota (N), Minnesota and Iowa (E), Nebraska (S), and Wyoming and Montana (W). (SN: 11/11/95, p. 316). In 1992, federal agents raided his business and confiscated con·fis·cate
tr.v. con·fis·cat·ed, con·fis·cat·ing, con·fis·cates
1. To seize (private property) for the public treasury.
2. To seize by or as if by authority. See Synonyms at appropriate.
adj. the dinosaur dinosaur (dī`nəsôr) [Gr., = terrible lizard], extinct land reptile of the Mesozoic era. The dinosaurs, which were egg-laying animals, ranged in length from 2 1-2 ft (91 cm) to about 127 ft (39 m). , to be used as evidence against the dealer.
Although prosecutors never actually used the fossil in Larson's trial, he was eventually indicted INDICTED, practice. When a man is accused by a bill of indictment preferred by a grand jury, he is said to be indicted. on 39 counts, including stealing fossils from public and private lands and making false statements to Customs officials. A Rapid City jury found Larson guilty of two felonies related to transporting more than $10,000 into and out of the country without declaring the amount. He was convicted of stealing a fossil worth less than $100 from federal lands and of illegally holding another fossil, both misdemeanors.
In addition to serving the 2 years, Larson must pay a fine of $5,000. His attorney, Patrick K. Duffy, calls the sentences unfair. The judge, he says, "didn't throw the book at Larson, he threw the entire New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. Public Library at him."
However, these penalties were not the maximum that Larson could have received, says David L. Zuercher, assistant U.S. attorney in Pierre, S.D. "Given the offenses of which he was convicted, these are pretty moderate sentences."
Larson is appealing his convictions.