A federal judge on Friday sentenced a pair of Santa Feans to prison terms for immigration fraud and crimes stemming from their part in a conspiracy to smuggle ancient artifacts into the United States from Pakistan.
Ijaz Khan, 42, received a three-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay $115,000 in fines and forfeit more than 1,300 artifacts, including pottery and bronze coins, according to a news release from the Office of United States Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia.
The artifacts had been stolen from burial sites at a cave temple in Pakistan called the Kashmir Smast, the statement said, and are thought to be between 500 and 6,000 years old.
Khan, originally from Pakistan, will lose his U.S. citizenship, which officials say he obtained through fraud.
Khan’s ex-wife, Vera Lautt, 57, was sentenced to four months in prison and two years of supervised release, said U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Joshua Stueve.
Khan and Lautt sold the artifacts through their business, Indus Valley, federal officials said. Prosecutors said the two used false documents, some purported to be from the government of Pakistan, to pick up a shipment of goods that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized in 2013 at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C.
In addition to their smuggling activities, the pair filed 11 petitions to obtain immigration benefits for Khan and his family through fraud, the release said.
Five of those attempts were successful, the statement said, resulting in Khan becoming a citizen and four of his six children becoming naturalized. Immigration petitions Khan filed on behalf of his Pakistani wife, two younger children, mother and brother were still pending when Khan was indicted.
Prosecutors said Lautt knew that Khan had a wife and children in Pakistan and helped him hide them from the U.S. government while he sought to obtain citizenship based on his marriage to Lautt.
Once Khan had obtained his citizenship, officials say, he and Lautt divorced so he could begin petitioning for his Pakistani wife to immigrate to the United States based on her marriage to Khan.
Contact Phaedra Haywood at 505-986-3068 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @phaedraann.