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Gainesville man charged with smuggling dinosaur fossils from Mongolia

11:32 PM, Oct 22, 2012   |    comments
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NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The government has urged a New York judge to toughen bail conditions on a Florida man criminally charged with smuggling dinosaur fossils into the United States, calling him a "participant in the black market" for stolen fossils.

Federal Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman on Monday reacted skeptically to claims by prosecutors about Eric Prokopi.

He lifted the home confinement requirement imposed by a Florida judge after Prokopi's arrest last week on a conspiracy to smuggle illegal goods charge. He also boosted bond from $100,000 to $250,000 as  Prokopi remains free.

Pitman rewrote the bail conditions during Prokopi's first appearance in Manhattan federal court. He mostly rejected the argument that Prokopi is a flight risk because he can sell dinosaur skeletons for large sums and has connections overseas.

Prokopi, from Gainesville, owns and runs a business called "Everything Earth" out of his home. He describes himself as a "commercial paleontologist."

Federal prosecutors say the imported fossils include a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton from Mongolia.

Associated Press

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