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Oakhurst Man Sentenced for Excavating Native American Cultural Property

FRESNO — Vance Franklin Myers, 35, of Oakhurst, was sentenced Tuesday by United States District Judge Ana de Alba to 3 years probation and a $10,000 fine for unauthorized excavation and removal of archeological resources from public lands, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Additionally, Myers was ordered to pay $10,023.48 in restitution, perform 100 hours of community service, make a public statement concerning his offense, and he is banned from entering public lands for recreational purposes during the period of his probation.

A federal grand jury had previously returned a four-count indictment on October 18, 2018, against Vance Franklin Myers, charging him with three counts of unauthorized excavation and removal of archeological resources, and one count of possession of stolen government property.

According to court documents, on July 26, 2015, while fighting a wild fire, fire fighters discovered an excavated site in the Willow Creek area of Box Canyon in the Sierra National Forest. Human remains and artifacts were located among large piles of sifted dirt, hand tools and a large screen sifting box. Archeologists determined that the artifacts indicated long‑term use of the site between 500 A.D. and 1900. The site is believed to have been inhabited by members of the Mono Indian tribe. An investigation revealed incidents of illegal excavation and looting in the archeological site in September 2015 and again in August 2016.  As the investigation progressed, Myers was identified as being involved in the excavation through photographs and statements. Artifacts removed from the site included beads, manos, rosegates, and desert side notched points.

This case was the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service and Assistant United States Attorney Laurel J. Montoya prosecuted the case.

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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online