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Caught ruby-red handed with fossils

The giant shiny rocks sparkling red and green weren’t rubies or emeralds, but they were rare and valuable and led to the conviction of a fossil felon.

The giant shiny rocks sparkling red and green weren’t rubies or emeralds, but they were rare and valuable and led to the conviction of a fossil felon.

The RCMP and Canada Border Service Agency displayed the ammonites, bacculites and ammolite to the media yesterday after Lorne Powell of Calgary pleaded guilty to attempting to ship $100,000 worth of the gemstones and fossils to a trade show in Arizona.

Powell didn’t fill out the proper permit and seriously undervalued the collection at $400 — but it was his motive that authorities questioned.

“The officers were suspicious because of the declaration of why the goods were going down,” said Rick Cuzzetto, manager of criminal investigations for the border agency. “The officers realized the place ... was the type of show where the sale of any type of fossil or mineral was conducted.”

The stones ranged in size from a thumbnail to a large pizza with a weight of over 30 kilograms.

The border agency laid a charge under the Customs Act and the RCMP charged Powell under the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, which regulates the movement of cultural property.

He was fined a total of $2.500. He also faces a civil penalty of $28,000 for making false and deceptive statements and will have to pay that if he wants the collection back.

 
 
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