New York Antiques Dealer Coughs Up Lost Pieces of the Coffin of Shesepamuntayesher in Court
How did a Brooklyn man smuggle enough Egyptian artifacts into the U.S. to open a small museum? Mostly by lying on customs forms. On Wednesday the New York antiques dealer Mousa Khouli (aka Morris Khouli), 38, pleaded guilty to smuggling Egyptian artifacts into the country at a Brooklyn courthouse, including an ancient sarcophagus in Greco-Roman style, a three-part nesting coffin that once contained an ancient Egyptian named "Shesepamuntayesher," a set of funerary boats, and limestone figures. Khouli could face as much as 20 years in federal prison.
The artifacts, which he smuggled into the United States from Dubai between October 2008 and November 2009, have all been recovered following an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Khouli was able to bring the artifacts into the country by falsifying customs documents, providing inaccurate information regarding the artifacts' provenance and value, and giving misleading descriptions on container labels, like "wooden painted box" and "wood panels," Political News reports.
The majority of the artifacts were recovered on July 14, 2011 at the time of Khouli's indictment. Parts of the multi-chambered nesting coffin were recovered from his home during a September 2009 raid, and from containers at the Port of Newark, New Jersey, in November 2009. Still other smuggled objects were found in a raid of his co-defendent Joseph A. Lewis II's house last July. Khouli handed over the remaining pieces of the coffin in court on Wednesday, which may help reduce his jail sentence.
To see more of the smuggled artifacts, click the slide show.