Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving: Khouli Sentenced to Home Detention

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has sentenced Mousa ("Morris") Khouli to six months of home detention and one year probation for smuggling Egyptian antiquities by way of false declarations on customs forms.  The prosecutor had asked for 46-57 months of incarceration, but the Court evidently was swayed by a sentencing memorandum prepared by Khouli's lawyer that outlined the relatively modest sentences given for other "cultural property" crimes.

The blood-thirsty archaeological blogosphere will likely be aghast at the length of the sentence. But then again, as set forth in the declaration of Jay Kislak appended to ACCG's recently filed petition for rehearing there is credible evidence to suggest that certain individual(s) at the US Department of State misled Congress and the public in official reports about import restrictions on Cypriot coins and have yet to be called into account in any fashion whatsoever.   

Is it really more serious to mislead on a customs form than in an official government report sent to Congress?  And let's not forget that the very same State Department bureaucrats involved in the Cypriot coin controversy are also intimately involved in coordinating repatriations like that at issue in the Khouli case through the State Department's "Cultural Antiquities Task Force."  Why should they be above the law?


Wayne G. Sayles said...

Regarding the State Department, I believe that, being they are a country of their own (Teflonia), the subjects (bureaucrats) enjoy diplomatic immunity against prosecution.

Cultural Property Observer said...

In response to some comments, here is exactly what Mr. Kislak stated (as set forth in the linked attachment to the ACCG's Petition for Rehearing:

7. I am told that Section 303 (g) of the CPIA requires the State Department to report to Congress any differences between CPAC’s recommendations and the State Department’s ultimate decision to impose import restrictions. In this regard, the release of the most recent CPAC report related to Cyprus and its discussion about coins could clarify misleading information contained in official State Department documents.

8. I specifically call the Cypriot request that then current import restrictions on other cultural artifacts be extended to coins was a matter of great public controversy. CPAC considered the question specifically and I recall a special vote being taken on this particular issue.

9.With that in mind, I have reviewed both an official State Department Press Release and a State Department report made pursuant to CPIA Section 303 (g) about the MOU with Cyprus. Copies of these documents have been attached to this declaration as Exhibits 1 and 2. I believe it absolutely false to suggest in those materials that the that the State Department’s decision to extend import restrictions to ancient coins was consistent with CPAC’s recommendations. The full release of CPAC’s recommendations with regard to coins would be in the public interest because it should clarify misleading information contained in official State Department documents.

Paul Barford said...

"Is it really more serious to mislead on a customs form than in an official government report sent to Congress?"

Since it is clear that the latter is a primary concern of the Ancient Coin Collectors' Guild, would you support Mr Khouli's reinstatement as a full member and will you be discussing this with other members of the Board of Directors? If not, why not?

Cultural Property Observer said...

The former is the primary concern of the ACCG as the State Department's deceit has resulted in Americans being precluded from importing the same types of coins widely importable by other collectors. As to the latter issue, any disussion is a bit premature. Leave Mr. Khouli in peace for now, why don't you.

Wayne G. Sayles said...

Formers and Latters aside, the question really is whether Paul Barford has any business questioning ACCG policy or actions. He has no standing with the ACCG. The Guild is a legally formed private non-profit organization governed by a board of seven directors and a very clearly stated set of bylaws. It is not a public entity and has no responsibility whatever to answer the ramblings and curious musings of Mr. Barford.

Paul Barford said...

... and it stands for transparency in dealing with cultural property issues. I suggest that what the ACCG does is in itself a cultural property issue and as such we should all be "observing" it very carefully - hence my comment to "Cultural Property Observer", Mr Sayles.

So, will you be letting ACCG member of some previous standing Khouli back in, Mr Sayles?

I'd like to see Mr Khouli reinstated as an ACCG member of good standing, he has a lot of friends in the coin collecting community, many of whom have in the past bought items from him with which they are very pleased, I understand. I seem to recall that Mr Khouli was a generous donor to the ACCG benefit auctions, to finance the fight against the DoS et al., and now you are kicking him out?

Wayne G. Sayles said...

In deference to the U.S. Department of State, ACCG will follow its lead in regard to transparency on cultural property issues. Mr. Barford's concern for Mr. Khouli is touching and well noted.