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Now, though, Nomos/CNG partner Arnold-Peter Weiss, who was arrested at the time, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges connected with coins seized during that raid.

The twist in the tail is that Weiss was prosecuted for what he thought he had done rather than what he had actually done.

Weiss thought that the coins in question were highly valuable: two decadrachms dating to fifth century B.C. Sicily, one with an estimate of $3m, the other with one of $300,000, and a fourth century Greek tetradrachm, valued at around $350,000.

The court heard how he was secretly taped acknowledging that he knew the coins to be genuine examples exported illegally from Italy in recent years - Italian law forbids the export of coins found after 1909.

In fact, the coins turned out to be fakes, but Weiss found himself facing charges because he thought the coins were illegally acquired.

Weiss struck a plea bargain, under which he has to forfeit his interest in 23 coins seized from him, perform 70 hours of community service and write an article about problems caused by trading in unprovenanced coins. He must also attempt to have the article published in a suitable magazine, such as that of the American Numismatic Society. What is not clear yet is what impact Weiss's admission to the court will have on his professional and academic standing in the coin world.

As well as being a collector and investor for 35 years, he was treasurer of the American Numismatic Society from 2005 to 2009 and has held other offices of distinction.