A Brooklyn antiquities dealer Mousa Khouli, 38, pleaded guilty today to smuggling Egyptian cultural property into the United States and making a false statement to law enforcement authorities. The defendant entered his plea at the US Courthouse in Brooklyn and he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.
Khouli arranged for the purchase and smuggling of a series of Egyptian antiquities between October 2008 and November 2009, specifically a Greco-Roman style Egyptian coffin, a three-part nesting coffin set, a set of Egyptian funerary boats and Egyptian limestone figures. The object were smuggled into the US from Dubai using false declarations to US Customs regarding their place of origin, their value and the importance of the objects.
All the antiquities have been recovered by law enforcement. The innermost coffin of the nesting set was seized during a search of Khouli’s residence in September 2009. The middle coffin and most of the outer coffin lid were seized in November 2009 at the Port of Newark, New Jersey. The Greco-Roman sarcophagus, funerary boats and limestone figures were seized during a search of co-defendant Joseph A. Lewis II’s residence in July 2011. The missing pieces of the coffin lid were forfeited to the government in court today. They consist of four wooden bird-like figures that attach to the four corners of the coffin lid, and four wooden panels that comprise the rectangular bottom of the coffin lid. Hieroglyphics on the coffin indicate that the name of the deceased was “Shesepamuntayesher” and that she bore the title “Lady of the House.”