Hobby Lobby agrees to forfeit thousands of Iraqi artifacts, pay $3 million fine

Federal prosecutors say Hobby Lobby Stores has agreed to pay a $3 million federal fine [Sue Ogrocki / AP]
Hobby Lobby agreed to forfeit thousands of artifacts from modern-day Iraq and pay a $3 million fine to resolve a civil action the Justice Department brought against the company, according to court documents.

The DOJ said the company received the falsely labeled artifacts from a United Arab Emirates-based supplier.

The artifacts, ancient cuneiform tablets and clay bullae, were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Justice officials said. Cuneiform is an ancient system of writing on clay tablets that was used in Mesopotamia, and clay bullae are balls of clay on which seals have been imprinted.

The dealers working with Hobby Lobby falsely labeled the shipments as “ceramics” and “samples” and illegally shipped them to Hobby Lobby stores and two corporate offices, according to the DOJ.

The arts and crafts chain agreed Wednesday to the settlement with the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Hobby Lobby said it has cooperated with the investigation.

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