Message #209:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Polar Mesa Cave and UT Vandalism Hotline Number
Date: Sun Jun  1 18:43:56 1997

Deseret News Archives, Friday, April 18, 1997=20

S. Utah pothunter gets 2 years in prison=20

A southeastern Utah pothunter was sentenced Thursday to two years in
prison for what prosecutors characterized as the looting of a veritable

museum of archaeological treasures. Scott Timpson, 31, who is already
serving a 10-year prison sentence for an unrelated drug con-vic-tion, was
also ordered to forfeit a ``priceless'' artifact collection and pay
$9,510 restitution into the Native American Grave Protection Act and U.S.

Forest Service restoration fund.  U.S. District Chief Judge David K.
Winder ordered Timpson serve 12 months of the sentence during his current

imprisonment and tacked the other 12 months onto the end of the sentence.
Timpson has been in an Oregon federal prison for almost four years. In an
elaborate plea agreement, Timpson pleaded guilty in December to three of
10 counts of conspiracy and destruction of an archaeological site. He was
accused of leading a band of ``hobbyists'' in the unauthorized
ex-ca-va-tion of the Polar Mesa Cave in the Manti-LaSal National Forest
east of Moab. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Dance, Timpson
and the others excavated 30 cubic yards of soil in the cave between 1985
and 1991 and took hundreds of Indian artifacts, including human remains.

While not excusing Timpson's actions, attorney Michael W. Jaenish argued
his client had excavated artifacts as a hobby rather than for commercial

Deseret News Archives, Friday, May 23, 1997
Looters destroy cave's archaeological treasure trove
Experts say no amount of money can undo damage caused by pothunters.

By Joe Costanzo, Staff Writer

About 7,000 years before European explorers set foot in America, a band
of Indians sought shelter in a cave in the northern LaSal Mountains of
what is now Utah. For millennia to come - until about the year 1200 A.D.
- their descendants and other native people occupied the cave, living and
dying there and leaving behind traces of their existence. Most were
Anasazi, though there are hints that the Fremont were there as well,
possibly at the same time. What were they like? How did they live? Why
were they there?=20

Harbored by the Polar Mesa Cave, the stone tools, utensils, baskets,
fiber sandals, leather clothing, pouches and other ordinary articles of
the everyday existence of these ancient peoples might have yielded some
answers. But that was until modern-day pothunters stumbled across it.
With careless disregard for its archaeological significance, the artifact
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hunters plundered the cave and destroyed what experts have called a
library of antiquity. The worst damage was done from 1989 through 1991,
when looters excavated 54 cubic yards of material from the cave - equal
to 20 pickup truck loads - and hauled away more than 500 artifacts,
including human remains. In 1995, nine of the pothunters were identified,
indicted and prosecuted under the Archaeological Resources Protection
Act. All nine pleaded guilty to a combined 17 felonies. Three of the men
were sentenced to two-year prison terms and six were placed on probation.
They were ordered to pay $25,555 restitution. But no amount of money can
make up for the damage they caused, said Wil Numkena, director of the
Utah Division of Indian Affairs. The violation to Indian heritage is
irrevocable, he said. Stan McDonald, archaeologist for the Manti-LaSal
National Forest, agreed, saying, ``The loss cannot be overstated.

Although the looting of the cave has been resolved through the legal
process, a large chapter of Utah's fascinating prehistory has been
destroyed forever.'' Numkena, McDonald and other key figures in the Polar
Mesa Cave investigation and prosecution joined U.S. Attorney Scott M.
Matheson Jr. at a press conference Tuesday to hail the convictions and to
call upon the public to protect the state's archaeological treasures.
Noting the Polar Mesa Cave case was the single largest prosecution of
archaeological violators in U.S. history, Matheson said Utah has taken
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the lead in fighting such crimes. ``These are tough cases, but the
priceless cultural heritage at stake makes the necessary dedication and
commitment not only worthwhile but imperative,'' Matheson said. Acting on
a tip from a private citizen, the U.S. attorney's office launched its
investigation in 1990 with the help of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of
Land Management and Grand County and Moab law enforcement agencies.
Investigators built their case with the help of forensic evidence
analyzed by the FBI Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and the Mercyhurst
Archaeological Institute in Pennsylvania. Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne
Dance, who prosecuted the nine looters, has become a leading authority on
the Archaeological Resources Protection Act as well as on the resources
it's meant to protect. Polar Mesa Cave was a prime example, he said.
``This case was about much more than the loss of artifacts,'' Dance said.
``It was about the loss of respect for prehistoric culture and people.
What we've lost here is irreplaceable.''

And it didn't make any difference that the defendants were in it as a
hobby rather than for commercial gain, Dance said. ``In my experience,
the hobbyists are causing as much if not more damage to  archaeological
sites than the commercial looters.'' During their sentencings, most of
the defendants argued they simply engaged in an activity that is
commonplace in southeastern Utah. It's been going on for generations,
they said. Numkena said that's no excuse. ``If society condones this as a
lifestyle, we're in trouble.'' He likened the crime to someone
desecrating a pioneer gravesite or plundering revered treasures from a
museum or library. All of the Polar Mesa artifacts found in the
collections of the defendants have been seized and will be placed in the
care of a museum in Cedar City. Forest Service officials estimate it will
cost about $515,000 to stabilize the cave. Those sentenced to prison in
the Polar Mesa case were Scott Andrew Timpson, 33; Collin Don McIntyre,
33; and Gregory Lynn Lathrom, 34. Receiving fines and probation were
Basil Edgar Beach, 28; Robert Gary Davis, 41; Brian Keith Engstron, 31;
Kenneth Walter Kirby, 39; Paul Todd McKee, 29; and Robert Roland Tolley,
31. All were Moab residents at the time of their indictment. Matheson
said he hopes the successful prosecution of the nine defendants in the
Polar Mesa Cave case will serve an ``educational'' purpose. ``For those
who wantonly go out and loot archaeological sites, we will do everything
we can to find you, and we will do everything we can to punish you,''
Matheson said. He asked the public to report any incidents of
archaeological vandalism to a special hotline number: 1-800 722-3998.