Five ancient Greek coins were returned to the Hellenic Republic on Monday after a prominent collector was prosecuted in New York, officials said.

They were part of a case against Arnold Peter Weiss, a hand surgeon from Rhode Island who was arrested during a coin auction at the Waldorf-Astoria in January 2012. Weiss had been a coin collector for 35 years and even served on the board of the American Numismatic Society.

According to prosecutors, Weiss thought he had two ancient Greek coins worth millions of dollars and had planned to illegally trade them at auction. Experts later determined the coins, supposedly unearthed in Italy, were fakes.


Two years ago, Weiss pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted criminal possession of stolen property in the forth degree. As part of his sentence and plea agreement, Weiss forfeited 23 coins from his collection.

Five of those coins were deemed authentic and are internationally recognized as historical artifacts, officials said. Two of them have been returned to a previous owner and the rest are expected to be used for display and research at theNumismatic Museum of Athens.

"As tokens of the world's oldest democracy, these coins are priceless," Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders

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