Pilot Assigned to Fort Rucker Charged with Stealing Artifacts

NEW YORK (AP) - A Fort Rucker-based Army helicopter pilot is facing charges of selling stolen Egyptian antiquities dating to 3000 B.C.

Federal prosecutors said Chief Warrant Officer Edward George Johnson was arrested Tuesday in Enterprise on charges of transportation of stolen property and wire fraud.

According to a criminal complant filed in federal court, the 44-year-old Johnson was stationed in Cairo in September 2002 when about 370 artifacts were stolen from the Ma'adi Museum near Cairo.

The items, dating to 3000 B.C. or earlier, had come from an archaeological site excavated in the 1920s and 1930s.

Prosecutors allege Johnson contacted an art dealer in January 2003 and offered to sell a collection of Egyptian antiquities, saying his grandfather acquired them while working in Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s. Some items were later consigned to galleries in New York, London, Zurich and Montreal.

The government said experts determined the majority of the items Johnson sold had been stolen from the Egyptian museum.

He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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