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Feds drop charges against BHI



>From the Tuesday, Sep. 20, the Rapid City Journal's front page headline:

-----   

"FOSSIL CASE WON'T GO TO TRIAL"
     by Hugh O'Gara

Hit by several recent setbacks in the celebrated "Sue" fossil prosecution,
the federal government is virtually giving up the case.
..
-----

Hugh O'Gara is a staff writer for the Journal and has been on this
case since it's beginnings. I happened to be in Hill City on Sep 20
myself on the way back from the Denver Gem and Mineral show. Nobody
at the Institute knows any details on what's going on or where Hugh
O'Gara got his information. Since no other details are available, 
here's a summary of what was in the article:

        -All charges except 1 will be dismissed.
        -No individual from BHI will plead guilty to anything, 
         the 1 charge is for the Institute as a whole.
        -All of the fossils seized by the government(not including SUE)
         will be retained by the government.

O'Gara claims that since the seizure of Sue the gov't has made a standing
offer that if one of the Institute owners would just plead guilty to a 
single felony count, the gov't would end the case. The Institute personnel
refused the offer. The sudden turnaround by the gov't was explained as 
being the result of several recent setbacks to the gov't case. The gov't
had attempted to move the case to Aberdeen due to the pretrial publicity,
but the motion was denied. The trial schedule and the recent untimely death
of a prosecution witness were also cited. 

O'Gara also mentioned that the settlement calls for no publicity from
either side, so don't expect anything more than "no comment" from any
of the principals in the case.

Finally, note that none of this has any direct influence on the disposition
of SUE, which is a separate case. As far as I understand things, the 
possible outcomes are:

        - The Supreme Court decides to hear the case and rules that fossils
          are NOT real estate and awards SUE back to the Institute.

        - The Supreme Court decides to hear the case and rules that fossils
          ARE real estate, and the fossil goes to Williams who will most
          likely sell to the highest bidder.

        - The Supreme Court decides NOT to hear the case. The outcome in
          this scenario is unclear but SUE may end up on the auction block
          at the Pierre courthouse.