A federal grand jury has handed down a four-count indictment against accused looter Vance Franklin Myers of Ahwannee, charging the 31-year-old with three counts of unauthorized excavation and removal of archeological resources from a Native American site, and possession of stolen government property.
On July 26, 2015, fire fighters battling a wildfire discovered a looted site in the Willow Creek area of Box Canyon in the Sierra National Forest.
U.S. Forest Service investigators found evidence of plundering: human remains and artifacts strewn around large piles of sifted dirt, hand tools and a large screen sifting box.
According to a criminal complaint, archeologists said the site was inhabited, apparently by the Mono tribe, between 500 A.D. and 1900.
In August 2015, the site was stabilized, rehabilitated, and the artifacts repatriated after consultation with the tribe. But the plundering didn’t stop.
More looting took place in September 2015 and August 2016, requiring a second site rehabilitation and reburial of the artifacts. Myers was identified as a suspect from photographs and statements. He was found in illegal possession of stone tools, arrowheads, and beads, among other things.
Myers was arraigned Friday and entered pleas of not guilty. His next hearing is Jan. 28. If convicted, Myers faces up to two years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
“We are extremely proud of the Forest Service’s role in helping to reduce the theft and destruction of Native American remains and artifacts from national forest lands here in California,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.