Man Sentenced for Selling Fake Moon Rocks
14 Mar 2001
(Source: NASA Headquarters)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Office of Inspector General
Washington, D.C. 20546
On March 12, 2001, Richard Keith Mountain, 53, (aka: Nicholas Parker Cole), formerly of New Milford, Connecticut, appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Roslyn O. Silver, District of Arizona, Phoenix. Mountain was sentenced to 21 months in prison, three years probation, 300 hours of community service, ordered to pay $98,750 restitution, and pay a $600 special assessment fee.
On April 29, 1999, Mountain was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on 24 counts of mail and wire fraud for misrepresenting to prospective buyers that the materials he was selling were authentic and had been collected from the surface of the moon during the July 1969 Apollo lunar landing. On October 30, 2000, Mountain entered a plea of guilty to six counts of mail and wire fraud in connection to this scheme. The investigation confirmed Mountain sold sand-like granules to multiple buyers throughout the United States, Australia, and Canada. These granules were scientifically tested and were determined not to be of lunar origin.
Special Agents of the NASA Office of Inspector General, Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted this investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Michael T. Shelby, District of Arizona, handled the prosecution.
For more information on this release, please call Samuel A. Maxey, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at (202) 358-2580.