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Head collection may aid fraud victims

DENVER, June 4 (UPI) -- The exotic animals bagged by a Colorado man who allegedly operated a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme may be sold off soon to help his investors.

Shawn Merriman of Aurora, Colo., has not been charged yet, but federal marshals seized his possessions last month, including Rembrandt prints and classic cars, The Denver Post reported Thursday.

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Merriman also collected heads, more than 100 of them, including a Russian black bear and a rare helix-antlered antelope from Africa. Nature's Design Taxidermy in Cody, Wyo., where Merriman had his most recent trophies mounted, has been designated to market the collection.

"His safaris seemed excessive," said Davis McCann, who considered Merriman a friend until he was told he might have been cheated out of $2 million. "He probably had enough heads to fill a semi-truck. If they figure out a way to get the proper value, it's something, at least."

Ray Hatfield, owner of Nature's Design, started selling some of the heads last week. He stopped when federal marshals told him they had not yet obtained a court order.

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