Arkansas Couple Sentenced for Looting Federal Sites

An Arkansas couple has been sentenced in federal court for looting stone tools, arrowheads and other objects from sites near the Buffalo National River national park.  After a plea agreement, William Graves was sentenced to six months in federal prison, with one year of probation for a felony count of violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979; his wife was sentenced to a year of probation for a misdemeanor violation.  They must also pay $4,613 in restitution.  Why does looting continue?  These are not particularly stiff penatlties, particularly when compared to other kinds of theft, and the monetary value placed on these objects is not really high, nor is there enough attention paid to the archaeological record which is distorted when these objects are removed. 

From the Springfield News-Leader:

The couple, William A. Graves and Misty Graves, were caught near the site in January, after park rangers were alerted to recent looting at a well-known archeological site in the upper district of the park, according to a news release from the National Park Service.

At the time of the arrest, William Graves was carrying digging tools and wearing boots that matched impressions found near the looting site, the park service said, while his wife was found with their vehicle at the trailhead in possession of several artifacts and a pick.

A search warrant at the Graves’ home turned up additional tools and evidence, the release said. After a six-month investigation, the Graves were indicted in federal court. William Graves, who subsequently admitted digging in the park, also turned in “71 stone tools, projectile points, or other artifacts” he said came from the site, authorities said.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *