A Huntington Beach man pleaded guilty this afternoon to violating the
Archaeological Resources Protection Act for selling on the Internet a 200-year-old
skull of a Native Hawaiian that was stolen from a beach on Maui
Jerry David Hasson, 55, pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles. Hasson
admitted that he offered the skull for sale on eBay.com, claiming that the skull
was of a “200-year-old Warrior” who “Died On Maui in the 1790s.”
In February 2004, Hasson placed the skull up for auction, with bidding starting at
$1,000 and an immediate purchase price of $12,500. As part of the auction, Hasson
stated that he and others took the skull as a “souvenir” from a guarded excavation
site located on Kaanapali Beach on Maui in 1969. Hasson claimed that the skull and
other skeletal remains on the beach were those of Hawaiian warriors who fought with or against Hawaii’s legendary King Kamehameha.
Shortly after the skull was placed on eBay, a member of a Native Hawaiian
organization known as Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai’i Nei (Group Caring for the
Ancestors of Hawaii), warned Hasson that selling the skull was a violation of
Hasson was also advised to terminate the sale of the skull and return
it to the Native Hawaiian organization for ceremonial reburial.
An undercover agent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs later contacted Hasson via
the Internet and negotiated the purchase of the skull. During the negotiation,
Hasson told the undercover agent that there might be a problem with selling the
skull because it was an “antiquity.” Hasson then proposed that he would present the
skull as a “gift” to the agent if he purchased another one of Hasson’s auction
items. On February 12, the agent sent Hasson a cashier’s check in the amount of
$2,500 for the purchase of a collector’s edition of a comic book fanzine. On
February 18, the agent received the skull from Hasson via Federal Express at his
office in New Mexico.
The skull was examined by a recognized expert in the identification of Native
Hawaiian remains at the University of Hawaii’s Department of Anthropology. The
forensic expert determined that the skull was that of an adult female, who was
approximately 50 years old at the time of her death. The expert also confirmed that
the skull was from a person of Polynesian ancestry who lived in prehistoric (pre-1778) Hawaii.
Hasson is scheduled to be sentenced on May 23 by United States District Judge A.
Howard Matz, who could sentence the defendant to as much as five years in federal
prison. Hasson has agreed to pay up $10,000 to pay for repatriation and reburial of
the Native Hawaiian remains.
This case was investigated by the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of