Is this illegal?

Arnold-Peter Weiss, Harvard Bozo

Surgeon pleads guilty to attempting to sell ancient Greek coins he “knew” had been stolen in Italy, but they were fakes, so what was he guilty of?  Not possession of stolen property – these weren’t stolen. Not some violation of an antiquities act – these weren’t ancient. Not fraud – no one paid him his asked-for $3 million because they were discovered to be fake before money changed hands.  And not attempted fraud – he thought they were real.

I know there are statutes prohibiting the sale of fake drugs, enacted to snare drug dealers peddling fake dry goods, but I’m trying to think of what law this guy violated.

He only got probation, so I suspect the prosecutors had a hard time coming up with a crime to charge him with too.

UPDATE: This link shows that he was originally charged in January with “criminal possession of stolen property” which of course, they couldn’t nail him on. “Attempted possession” might work, except there was in fact no stolen property to possess – the coins were forgeries.


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6 responses to “Is this illegal?

  1. Just the Facts!

    If a bear poops in the woods….oh, this story wasn’t a joke. Remember, intent plays a major factor in these types of cases. Just because it turned out to be a fake he was still trying to swindle unsuspecting buyers. They probably could not get him on the original charge but perhaps they could have nailed him on some conspiracy racket….

    • No no, what makes it interesting is that he thought it was a genuine stolen object; it was he who was swindled but he honestly (so to speak) believed he was selling stolen goods.
      As for criminal intent to possess stolen goods, the intent was there but there were in fact no stolen goods to possess.
      Reminds me of a fun hypothetical from crimlaw.

  2. Daniel

    Is this like the case where the guy is falling from the top of a fifty story building and you shoot him, are you guilty of murder?

  3. GPD Folk

    In Connecticut the charge is Criminal Simulation(where the actor purports something to be of a greater value than it is)

  4. armonk

    Daniel: yes, you would be guilty of murder if the shot is fatal. Would the case be prosecuted?