Facebook Twitter

WILL REPEAT POTHUNTER GET MORE THAN `SLAP’?

SHARE WILL REPEAT POTHUNTER GET MORE THAN `SLAP’?

A decade ago, federal prosecutors had Earl K. Shumway right where they wanted him: convicted of pothunting, awaiting sentencing.

They have him in that same spot again today as he awaits sentencing in December on seven similar convictions.This time, though, prosecutors are hoping Shumway's sentence amounts to more than the proverbial "slap on the wrist," which is basically all a federal judge gave him in 1984.

"We'll seek to convince the court of an upward departure from the guidelines," said assistant U.S. attorney Wayne Dance.

In other words, that stiffest sentence possible.

Shumway faces sentencing Dec. 15 before U.S. District Judge David K. Winder, who will decide whether the pothunter should do significant time for his crimes against history.

The Blanding native pleaded guilty as charged Thursday to violating the federal Archaeological Resource Protection Act, damaging government property and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Those charges revolve around an October 1994 incident in which Shumway dug holes in alcoves once occupied by Anasazi Indians, who lived in Utah from about A.D. 300 to 1300. The alcoves are located on Cedar Mesa in San Juan County.

An alleged accomplice, Peter Verchick, 25, faces a trial Nov. 1 on similar charges. Verchick was with Shumway and provided a .22-caliber rifle, which was later found in Shumway's possession, according to the charges.

In a separate case tried in August, a jury convicted Shumway of two archaeological violations and two counts of damaging government property. Shumway looted an Anasazi cliff dwelling in Canyonlands National Park in 1991, removing, among other things, the remains of an Indian infant - an act considered extremely sacrilegious by Americans Indians. He also damaged Horse Rock Ruin in the Dixie National Forest.

During sentencing, Dance likely will argue that these convictions deserve the maximum possible sentence because the damage from the looting was widespread and irreparable. He might also argue that Shumway is incorrigible, given a 1984 pothunting conviction.

In addition, Dance will ask for penalty enhancements allowed by law for defendants previously convicted of felonies. Not only was Shumway previously convicted of pothunting, he was convicted of burglary in 1986 in Grand County.

Shumway first gained notoriety in November 1984, when he was charged with looting ancient Indian sites in a national forest.