News and Press Releases

Archeological Thief Gets Federal Prison Time

December 16, 2003

Las Vegas, Nev. -  Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, announces that BOBBIE WILKIE, age 45, a former resident of Las Vegas, was sentenced yesterday by United States District Court Judge James C. Mahan to 37 months in federal prison for his guilty pleas to unlawfully removing and damaging archeological resources and Native American artifacts from various southern Nevada public lands. WILKIE, who currently resides in the Oklahoma City area, admitted he knew that the native American artifacts and other archeological resources were at least 100 years old and of archeological interest, and that he knew he did not have a permit to excavate and remove the resources. The sites included the White Cliff Petroglyph Site and Kane Springs Wash, located approximately 100 miles north of Las Vegas.

The defendant is one of a group of individuals who stole over 11,000 artifacts and damaged 13 archaeological sites in Nevada and California between late 1997 and December 2001. The archeological value of the resources and estimate of restoration and repair totals approximately $518,000. The sentence was announced on the two-year anniversary of the beginning of the investigation, and is the greatest period of imprisonment ever ordered by a Court for a first-time offender in a prosecution involving the theft and destruction of archeological resources and artifacts.

BOBBY WILKIE, his former wife DEANNE WILKIE, age 44, of Carson City, and FRANK EMBREY, age 54, of Henderson, were originally indicted in December 2002 and charged with participating in a conspiracy to steal Native American and other historical artifacts from public lands and convert them to their personal use in violation of the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA). Two others, DAVID PEELER, age 53 of Las Vegas, and KEVIN PETERSON, age 43, of Overton, Nevada, were also charged in Criminal Informations with violations of ARPA. EMBREY pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful Excavation of Archeological Resources and Aiding and Abetting and was sentenced on August 11, 2003, to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $86,000 in restitution; DEANNE WILKIE pleaded guilty to Unlawful Receipt of Archaeological Resources Removed from Public Lands and Aiding and Abetting and will be sentenced on January 23, 2004; PEELER pleaded guilty to Excavation of Archaeological Resources and Aiding and Abetting, and will be sentenced this Friday, December 19, 2003, and PETERSON pleaded guilty to Conspiracy (to steal and conceal archeological resources and government property), and will be sentenced on January 16, 2004.

The court records state that BOBBIE WILKIE, DEANNE WILKIE, and FRANK EMBREY, obtained books, documents, and maps relating to public lands and the identification and location of Native American artifacts in Nevada and California. They also obtained tools such as sifting screens, flipping sticks, probes, trowels, buckets, and shovels, and transported the tools, food, and camping gear from their residences to the various public lands, where along with other co-schemers, they excavated and damaged archeological resources located at historic and prehistoric sites. The sites included Death Valley National Park, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the United States Air Force Bombing Range, and other lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. They removed at least 11,000 artifacts including manos and metates (handheld grinding tools for corn, nuts, seeds, etc.), ancient corncobs, projectile points, fiber sandals, pottery fragments, figurines, baskets, and pendants. The defendants stored and displayed the stolen artifacts at their residences and at storage facilities. Many of the artifacts were recovered from the defendant's homes and storage areas. Prehistoric Native American remains were found during a search of co-defendant PETERSON's storage area. Pursuant to the plea agreements, all of the artifacts recovered will be forfeited to the Government.

WILKIE was also ordered to pay $102,364.40 in restitution to the victims of his offenses, and will be placed on one year of supervised release following his release from prison. While on supervised release, WILKIE is restricted from federally-managed lands, including Indian lands. The Court permitted BOBBIE WILKIE to self-surrender to the designated federal correctional facility on February 1, 2004.

The sentence is the result of massive federal law enforcement investigation involving the removal and defacing of Native American artifacts and other archeological resources from southern Nevada lands. The investigation led to the creation of an Inter-Agency Task Force, comprised of archeologists and law enforcement personnel from the National Park Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management, whose members have been working since early 2002 to develop evidence against individuals who have been pilfering public lands in Nevada. Over 50 archeological sites were examined and 10,000 hours were spent on the case.

Help protect America's precious cultural resources by treating historic and archeological sites with care and respect when you visit. If you see someone vandalizing or looting a site, notify the National Park Service 24-hour dispatch line at (800) 680-5851. Do not attempt to confront the vandal yourself. You can also help by joining your local or state archeological or historical society. You will learn more about the archeology and history of your part of the country.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents, rangers, and archeologists with the National Park Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Bureau of Land Management, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Stanish.

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