By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer
A California man has struck a deal with federal prosecutors in which he agreed to plead guilty to trying to sell a 200-year-old Hawaiian skull on eBay, one that he had taken from the Ka'anapali area 35 years ago.
Jerry David Hasson, a 55-year-old Huntington Beach resident, was charged in September in Los Angeles with violating the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act when he attempted the online sale of the skull last February.
The U.S. attorney's office has agreed that Hasson will perform 600 hours of community service and publish an apology to the citizens of Hawai'i in three of the state's newspapers as part of his penalty.
He also will pay "full restitution in the amount of $10,000 to the victims of the offense," according to the plea agreement document. The victims include Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai'i Nei, a nonprofit group formed for the care of Native Hawaiian burials, for the cost of returning the remains to Hawai'i and reburying them. The federal Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, also will be reimbursed for the expense of purchasing, shipping and examining the skull.
Hasson is expected to enter his plea in U.S. District Court next week, and at that time the judge also could impose other penalties, according to the plea agreement document.
Edward Halealoha Ayau, a Hui Malama spokesman, was unavailable for comment yesterday. In earlier interviews, Ayau said he spoke with Hasson after eBay officials were alerted to the auction and removed it from the Web site, warning him that the sale is a federal offense and trying to persuade him to return the skull to Hawai'i.
John Fryar, an investigator for Interior working undercover, negotiated through an intermediary to acquire the skull as a "gift" after paying $2,500 for a magazine Hasson was selling online, according to court documents.
In the original eBay listing, Hasson advertised the skull as coming from a "200-year-old warrior."
Fryar consulted with University of Hawai'i anthropologist Michael Pietrusewsky, according to the documents, who confirmed the general age of the skull but concluded that it was the skull of a woman, about 50 years old at the time of her death.
Reach Vicki Viotti at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8053.
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