Tour guide sentenced for theft of fossiles from public land
Anchorage, Alaska B Acting U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis announced today that an Anchorage woman was sentenced in federal court in Anchorage for conspiracy to commit theft of fossil resources on public land in Alaska.
Karen Ann Jettmar, 61, a commercial river tour guide, was sentenced on September 13, by Chief United States District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline, to a $30,000 fine and three years’ probation. The probationary conditions require that Jettmar cease all commercial activity on public lands for three years, return a fossil bone she collected illegally on public lands in 2009, and make certain changes to her business web site. Jettmar was ordered to post on the web site a warning that it is illegal on all state, federal and privately owned lands to remove, without a permit or authorization, any objects of pre-historic, historic, archeological, or cultural interest. The court also ordered Jettmar to remove from her web site anything that could cause customers to expect they might engage in collecting such objects while on guided tours.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper, who prosecuted the case, Jettmar has operated her tour business on Alaskan rivers during the past ten years or more. In 2007, during her guided tour on the Kokolik River in Northwestern Alaska, one of her customers collected a pre-historic mammoth tusk and transported it to his home outside Alaska. Jettmar posted an advertisement on her web site showing a photograph of this person holding the mammoth tusk, suggesting that finding prehistoric objects was a feature of Jettmar’s guided river tours. The tusk was later recovered by means of a search warrant. An agent of the Bureau of Land Management traveled on another Jettmar tour in 2009 and observed Jettmar collect a smaller fossil bone and remove it from the area. Jettmar eventually returned the fossil to the United States as part of her court-ordered sentence.
When the Judge imposed the sentence, Jettmar acknowledged that her past actions were illegal and would not be repeated.
Mr. Feldis commends the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, for the investigation of this case.