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Judge to settle battle over massive emerald

September 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A legal battle is under way in Los Angeles to determine who is the rightful owner of a massive 840-pound emerald.The so-called Bahia Emerald is believed to be worth $372 million.

Several people are claiming ownership. On Friday, one of those claimants, Anthony Thomas, told Superior Court Judge John A. Kronstadt that he paid $60,000 for it soon after it was discovered in Brazil in 2001.

His attorney told the court Friday that Thomas was later tricked into believing the emerald had been stolen so the people who had it could sell it for more money to someone else.

Lawyers for the other claimants characterized Thomas as an opportunist.

Since its discovery, the massive stone has been moved around from Brazil to the Bay Area and then to New Orleans. It was in a bank vault that was submerged underwater for several months following Hurricane Katrina.

Eventually, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement agents seized the gem in Las Vegas. It remains in the custody of the Sheriff's Department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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