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US trafficker in dinosaurs gets three years in prison

NEW YORK--An American who illegally imported dinosaur skeletons from Mongolia — one of them 70 million years old — was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison, authorities said.

Eric Prokopi, who pleaded guilty in December 2012, was accused of ordering from Mongolia and then carefully rebuilding a 70-million-year-old Tarbosaurus bataar (T-bataar) skeleton. At 2.43-meters (8-feet) tall and 7.31-meters (24-feet) long, the skeleton was sold at auction for US$1.05 million on May 20, 2012 in New York.

But after a tip from authorities in Mongolia, it was confiscated a month later. The skeleton was returned to Mongolia in May 2013.

Prokopi, 39, was accused of illegally importing in 2010 and 2012, several dinosaur bones for US$200,000 from a seller in the Asian nation, along with a British partner.

The bones were shipped through Britain to the United States, where the skeletons were reassembled, prosecutors said.

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