Enterprise Native Arrested on Stolen Egyptian Antiquities Charges

An Enterprise native and U.S. Army Helicopter pilot is in custody today on charges of transporting stolen property and wire fraud related to ancient Egyptian treasures.

44-year old Edward George Johnson is scheduled to appear in federal court in Montgomery today.

The case was investigated by the Immigrations and Customs Enforecement (ICE) out of New York.

According to the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan Federal Court: In late September 2002, approximately 370 pre-dynastic artifacts were stolen from the Ma'adi Museum near Cairo, Egypt. The artifacts, dating to 3000 B.C. and earlier, were originally discovered during an excavation in Egypt in the 1920s and 1930s.

Johnson, a Chief Warrant Officer with the United States Army whose duties include piloting and commanding attack and scout helicopters, was deployed to Cairo from February to October of 2002. In January 2003, Johnson contacted an art dealer in Texas and offered to sell the dealer a collection of Egyptian antiquities.

Johnson told the art dealer that his grandfather had acquired the antiquities when he worked in Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s, and that the antiquities had remained in the family ever since.

Based on Johnson's representations regarding the antiquities' provenance, the art dealer paid approximately $20,000 to Johnson for approximately eighty pieces.

The art dealer later consigned pieces from that collection to galleries and collectors in New York, London, Zurich and Montreal.

Two experts, after examining photographs of the antiquities that Johnson sold, have determined that the majority of the pieces are part of the lot that was stolen from the museum near Cairo in September 2002.

Johnson, who lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was arrested in Enterprise, Alabama on Wednesday.