News and Press Releases

Man Charged with Removing Petroglyph from Federal Lands Near Pahrump

February 10, 2010

Las Vegas, Nev. – A man was indicted by the federal grand jury today on felony charges that he unlawfully removed and damaged a large petroglyph from United States Forest Service lands in the Spring Mountains National Recreational Area near Pahrump, Nevada, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Michael Cook, 57, of Pahrump, is charged with one count of violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. If convicted, Cook faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is charged under the felony provisions of the statute because the archeological resource is valued at more than $500.

According to the indictment, between March and September 2008, Cook knowingly excavated, removed, damaged, and otherwise altered and defaced a large petroglyph, depicting seven sheep, from the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area without a permit or exemption. Nye County Sheriff's Department officials discovered the rock containing the petroglyph in Cook's front yard in Pahrump on June 24, 2009, and reported it to the United States Forest Service. The rock weighed about 200 pounds.

Cook was issued a summons and is scheduled for an initial appearance and arraignment on Friday, February 26, 2010, at 8:30 a.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Robert Johnston.

This investigation is being conducted by the United States Forest Service, with the assistance of the law enforcement team of the Southern Nevada Agency Partnership (SNAP) which includes the U.S. Forest Service, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger Yang.

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

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