RELEASE: 2001-01

On October 30, 2000, Richard Keith Mountain (AKA: Nicholas Parker
Cole), New Milford, CT, appeared before United States Magistrate Morton
Silver, District of Arizona, and entered a plea of guilty to six counts
of mail and wire fraud in connection with a scheme to sell alleged “moon
rocks” to interested buyers. Mountain had been previously indicted by a
Federal Grand Jury, in April 1999, on 24 counts of mail and wire fraud
for misrepresenting to the prospective buyers that the materials he was
selling were collected from the surface of the moon during the July 1969
Apollo 11 lunar landing.

This investigation found that the sand-like granules sold by Mountain
were not of lunar origin. The April 29, 1999, indictment alleged that
Mountain, using the alias of Nicholas Parker Cole, owned and operated
several businesses in Arizona and California to identify, solicit, and
defraud prospective “moon rock” buyers throughout the United States,
Australia, and Canada. As a result of the plea, Mountain faces a
possible prison term of 5 years and fines totaling $250,000. Sentencing
has been set for January 8, 2001.

Special Agents from the NASA Office of Inspector General, Office of
Criminal Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
conducted this investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant
United States Attorney Michael T. Shelby, District of Arizona.

For more information on this release, please call Samuel Maxey,
Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at (202) 358-2580.