Friday, August 7, 2009

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part XXXIV): Couple sentenced for looting artifacts

There are no crime-related reports in the July 30, 2009 issue of the Newton County Times, but a look back to the July 23, 2009 issue reveals an interesting crime item on the back page of the paper. The headline is as above, and the report is of a January, 2008, arrest of a man and woman who were caught looting an archeological site, the Parker-Hickman homestead, in the upper park district of the Buffalo National River. The two were discovered by rangers who were on site to install surveillance equipment in response to recent looting. The man was with a juvenile, and the two had in their possession digging tools and boots matching the impressions left in recently excavated holes. The man's wife was later found at the trailhead, in possession of a pick and some artifacts.

Following a six-month investigation, assisted by agents of the National Park Services Investigative Services, a grand jury indicted the couple. They subsequently relinquished 71 stone tools, projectile points, and other artifacts that originated in the park. The man subsequently pleaded guilty in federal court to one felony count of violating the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. He was sentenced to six months in federal prison and a year of supervised probation. His wife was sentenced to a misdemeanor count and was sentenced to a year of supervised probation. The two have been ordered to pay more than $4,600 in restitution to the park. No mention is made of charges against the juvenile.

The report notes that looting and vandalism of sites in the Buffalo National River are major concerns, just as such activities are problems in national parks in the western U.S. The report does not discuss, however, the market for the looted artifacts.

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