Television report says `Jesus ossuary' owner ran fraud ring
Oded Golan, who is suspected of forging the inscription "James the brother of Jesus," on a first century ossuary, worked with a ring of counterfeiters who sold dozens of forged articles to antiquities dealers and collectors, Channel 2's "Fact" program reports.
"Fact" broadcast a film by Gilad Tokatly, who investigated the subject, showing a letter from Golan to his lawyer, authorizing him to sell an additional "ancient" tablet, with an inscription attributed to the Biblical King Joash.
Golan denies he ever owned the artifact.
The report says Golan asked antique collector Shlomo Moussaieff for a fee to negotiate the sale of the ostracon, "The Seal of Menashe King of Judah." Golan is also alleged to have hired a Palestinian contractor to represent himself as the owner of the tablet.
The Channel 2 television report says that Golan sold the ostracon to Moussaieff for $150,000 and took a $15,000 broker's commission fee.
Golan also reportedly tried to sell a stone candle, attributed to the First Temple, to the collector George Weill, after it had been proved a fake.
Police say they have found tools in Golan's possession that could have been used to put "inscriptions" on genuinely ancient tablets. They believe an expert scribe was brought from Egypt for the purpose.
Police are currently preparing an indictment against Golan.