News and Press Releases

Federal Indictment Alleges Men Stole Petroglyphs From Peavine Mountain

October 8, 2003

Las Vegas, Nev. -  Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, announces that JOHN LIGON, age 40, of Reno, Nevada, and CARROLL MIZELL, a/k/a Cal Smith, age 43, of Van Nuys, California, were indicted today by a federal grand jury in Reno, Nevada, and charged with one count of Unlawful Excavation of Archaeological Resources, a violation of Title 16, United States Code, Section 470ee(a), and one count of Theft of Government Property, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, both felony offenses.

The Indictment alleges that between August 1, 2003, and August 25, 2003, JOHN LIGON and CARROLL MIZELL removed and damaged archeological resources on public lands managed by the United States Forest Service, namely Native American petroglyph rocks near the base of Peavine Mountain, located on the northwest flanks of the City of Reno in the Humboldt- Toiyabe National Forest. The defendants are alleged to have removed three rocks containing petroglyphs, one of which depicted a human figure and sheep; another depicted an archer, sheep, wheel, and lizard, and the third depicted an archer and sheep.

On September 16, 2003, based on a tip made to the Secret Witness program, the petroglyphs were recovered in Reno, and they are currently in the custody of the U.S. Forest Service. 
Both defendants were summoned to appear in court for an initial appearance hearing at 3:00 p.m. on November 10, 2003, before U.S. Magistrate Judge McQuaid.

If convicted, the defendants are facing up to two years imprisonment for the unlawful excavation of archaeological resources violation, and up to 10 years imprisonment for the theft of government property violation. Additionally, restitution and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count could be ordered by the Court at sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Bogden states, "The damage, destruction and theft of archeological resources is a very serious crime which my office intends to vigorously prosecute at each opportunity. Not only are persons who commit such crimes destroying the cultural heritage of Native Americans, but they spoil the opportunity for everyone to enjoy these resources in their natural environment. We will continue to work with the federal public land management agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Bureau of Land Management on the investigation and prosecution of persons who violate the federal laws pertaining to the unauthorized excavation, removal and damage of archaeological resources, and collecting and trafficking in archaeological resources."
The case was investigated by Special Agents with the U.S. Forest Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron Rachow.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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