Scott A. Timpson, originally of Moab, is a convicted marijuana grower now facing charges involving a different kind of pot.
Timpson - currently serving time in federal prison on a drug charge - has been summoned to Utah to be arraigned on 10 counts of violating federal archaeological protection laws.In an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court, Timpson, 29, is accused of looting an ancient American Indian site in the Manti-LaSal National Forest in Grand County.
A separate nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday charges two other suspects with similar crimes,but they occurred on different dates than those charged to Timpson. The suspects, Gregory L. Lathrom, 33, and Todd McKee, 27, are from La Sal, San Juan County.
Five years ago, Forest Service officials discovered that looters had illegally excavated North Beaver Mesa Cave, removing dozens of artifacts and destroying thousands of years of evidence at the site, which was believed to have been inhabited by Anasazi and possibly Fremont Indians.
Forest Service archaeologist Stan McDonald called it "one of the worst cases of vandalism I've ever seen." Vandals had moved the equivalent of five dump-truck loads of dirt in their quest for salable artifacts, which can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market.
The case, however, eluded investigators, who eventually called on the media for help in publicizing it.
The indictments, which do not explain how the crimes were finally solved, state that Timpson, Lathrom and McKee, along with other unnamed parties, conspired to "injure, damage and steal" archaeological resources belonging to the United States.
Among the items stolen by Timpson are a "hafted projectile point, bone artifacts, three woven sandals, a sewn leather bag, a fiber-wrapped cedar bark bundle and a coiled basketry fragment," according to the indictment.
Timpson used shovels, buckets, screens and other equipment to dig up the soil and sift through its contents, his indictment states.
The crimes occurred between July 1990 and July 1991.
The pothunting indictment is at least Timpson's second brush with the law. In September 1991, he and three other men were charged with cultivating marijuana after police raided a remote area of Wayne County and confiscated 410 hybrid plants valued at $4 million. Timpson is currently serving a 10-year federal sentence for a conviction related to that case, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Dance, who is prosecuting these indictments.
The charges against Timpson, Lathrom and McKee are felonies that carry possible prison terms of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.