Oh how I love me a good busted looter. This weeks Archaeology FAIL comes from the prairie state.
This week, an Illinois man pleaded guilty to a federal felony and admitted illegally digging up and selling prehistoric artifacts for years.
Leslie Jones, of Creal Springs, pleaded guilty to the unauthorized excavation, removal or damage of archaeological resources in federal court in Benton. As part of the plea, Jones admitted digging up and selling pottery fragments and other artifacts from the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge from 2004-2007. The refuge is located in southern Illinois north of Cairo.
Jones got between $20 and $40 per item, court documents say.
As part of the plea, Jones also agreed to pay the government $150,326 ($15,941 for the cost of repairing the damage from his digging and $134,385 representing the “archaeological value” lost).
Two archaeologists determined that he had disturbed 130 cubic meters of material during his diggings, according to plea documents.
He could have faced two years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but prosecutors and Jones’ public defender agreed that most of the artifacts had been recovered and that he made much less from the artifact sales that was anticipated by the guidelines. They agreed to ask for five years of probation, 30 days in jail, and 500 hours of community service. Link.
I hope I’m not the only one glad to see this looter punk brought to justice.
As a side note, thanks to Elizabeth Reid and Marcus Hensel for sending a few great suggestions for our looters section!