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CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of conspiring to smuggle fossils from China into the United States.

Rick Rolater of Eagle, entered the plea Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Kelly Rankin in Cheyenne. The 69-year-old has operated galleries in Jackson and Colorado.

Rolater faces a $25,000 fine and two years' probation under a plea agreement when he is sentenced March 18 in Casper.

He agreed to forfeit a saber-toothed cat skull and three dinosaur fossils imported from China.

Rolater also agreed not to contest forfeiture of two fossils from Mongolia, including the skull of a Tyrannosaurus Bataar, a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex. He didn't admit the Mongolian fossils were imported illegally.

Officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations handled the probe.

During this investigation, HSI seized the following smuggled fossils, which will ultimately be repatriated back to their country of origin:

China Origin:

Item Estimated Value

Micro-Raptor (4) $173,000

Dinosaur Eggs (10) $5,075

Keichosaurus (15) $3,990

Sinovenator (2) $70,000

Anchiormis (1) $30,000

Mongolia Origin:

Item Estimated Value

Bataar Skull (3) $1,875,000

Bataar lower leg (1) $75,000

Gallimimus foot (1) $18,750

Protoceratops (1) $100,000

Gallimimus skeleton (1) $100,000

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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