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Judge gives Colorado man 2 years' probation for conspiracy to smuggle fossils from China

A federal judge has sentenced a Colorado man to two years of supervised probation after he admitted to conspiring to smuggle fossils from China into the United States.

Judge Scott Skavdahl on Tuesday also ordered Rick Rolater of Eagle, Colo., to pay a $25,000 fine after Rolater pleaded guilty to the felony charge.

Rolater had sold fossils through two galleries — one in Jackson, Wyo., and one in Avon, Colo. He agreed to forfeit fossils to the government, including a Tyrannosaurus skull that authorities say will likely be returned to Mongolia.

Rolater apologized to Skavdahl. The judge warned him he would face jail if he violates probation.

Last year, the U.S. government returned another 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton to the Mongolian government that had been smuggled into the country by another fossil dealer.

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