WASHINGTON -- The head of the Smithsonian Institution will plead guilty to violating a federal law protecting endangered birds, the agency said yesterday. Lawrence M. Small was charged under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for possessing South American headdresses that included feathers from protected birds.
The Smithsonian's governing board issued a statement saying Small planned to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in US District Court in Raleigh, N.C. Under terms of the plea, the US attorney will not recommend any fine or jail time, the statement said.
The board said the investigation and guilty plea "has not impaired, is not impairing, and will not hereafter impair" Small's ability to run the Smithsonian, which consists of 16 museums and galleries, the National Zoo in Washington, and research facilities.
The US attorney's office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said Small would be arraigned on Friday. Small's lawyer, Judah Best, declined to comment.
Small bought the collection of headdresses before becoming secretary of the Smithsonian in January 2000. According to the statement, he got legal advice before purchasing the collection, which had been at two museums.