Hobby Lobby Fined $3M for Smuggled Iraqi Artifacts - NBC4 Washington

Hobby Lobby Fined $3M for Smuggled Iraqi Artifacts

Hobby Lobby is perhaps best known for its Supreme Court victory in a 2014 religious freedom case over contraception

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    Arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a federal case over smuggled Iraqi antiquities it bought to demonstrate its "passion for the Bible."

    NBC News reports that prosecutors said the 5,500 Iraqi artifacts were shipped without proper documentation, labeled only as "ceramic tiles" or "samples" from Turkey or Israel. The company didn't pay the dealer who supposedly owned the items, instead wiring $1.6 million in payment to the accounts of seven other individuals.

    According to a civil complaint, an expert hired by Hobby Lobby had warned its in-house lawyer that there was a risk the items it wanted to buy had been looted and counseled them to make sure the country of origin was properly labeled on customs forms.

    Hobby Lobby is perhaps best known for its Supreme Court victory in a 2014 religious freedom case over contraception. The family that owns the company is also bankrolling a $500 million Museum of the Bible slated to open in Washington in the fall. 

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    In a statement, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green acknowledged "regrettable mistakes" that he chalked up to inexperience.