Italian judge drops charges against former Getty curator

Criminal charges against a former Getty museum antiquities curator accused of illicitly acquiring stolen objects were dropped today by a judge in Italy who ruled that the statute of limitations had expired in the case.

Marion True, who has consistently maintained her innocence, resigned her post with the Getty in 2005.

"We are pleased that charges against Marion True have been dismissed, and we wish her the very best as this long and difficult ordeal comes to a close,'' a spokeswoman for the Getty said today.

True had been accused of taking part in a criminal conspiracy to receive stolen goods and illicitly receiving archeological items. Italian prosecutors alleged that True had laundered goods that were purchased by a private collection then sold to the Getty using phony documentation.

True's co-defendant, Giacomo Medici, was convicted of related charges, while another co-defendant, Robert Hecht, is still on trial, the Los Angeles Times reported on its website.

According to The Times, today's ruling came in response to a motion by True's attorneys arguing that the final charge against her -- conspiracy to traffic in looted art -- expired in 2007.

The charges stemmed largely from the 1996 acquisition of the private collection of Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman, The Times reported.

Since the charges were filed, the Getty and other American museums have reached agreements with Italian authorities for the return of selected items. In 2007, the Getty reached an agreement with the Italian Culture Ministry to return 40 antiquities, including a celebrated 5th Century B.C. statue of the goddess Aphrodite.

That agreement also provided for cultural cooperation between Italy and the Getty, including loans of other treasures to the Los Angeles museum.

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