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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 23, 2017

Mississippi Residents Convicted for Illegally Searching and Removing Native American Artifacts

OXFORD, Robert H. Norman, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, together with Luis Santiago, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and William “Wynne” Fuller, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chief of Operations for the Mobile District, announces:

 

Matthew Glen Arnold, 33, of Booneville, Mississippi, Jackie Dale Arnold, 59, of Burnsville, Mississippi, Sandra Arnold, 62, of Burnsville, Mississippi, Tyler Wilemon, 22, of Booneville, Mississippi, Melinda Jean Arnold, 42, of Burnsville, Mississippi, and Robert Alan Aguirre, 29, of Corinth, Mississippi, were recently sentenced in the United States District Court for their roles in illegally searching for and removing Native American artifacts from government land.  Matthew Arnold was sentenced on September 29, 2017, by United States District Judge Debra M. Brown of Greenville following a previous guilty plea to six felony counts of excavating and removing archeological resources located on designated historic public lands in violation of the Archeological Resources Protection Act.  The investigation and subsequent charges arose out of the removal of Native American artifacts from United States Army Corps of Engineers property along the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Tishomingo County, Mississippi.  Matthew Arnold was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of twenty (20) months for each count of conviction, to be served concurrently, followed by one (1) year of supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay $41,551.49 in restitution to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for damage to the subject property.

 

Jackie Arnold and Melinda Arnold were sentenced on October 13, 2017, Tyler Wilemon was sentenced on September 28, 2017, and Sandra Arnold was sentenced on September 7, 2017, by Judge Brown following a previous guilty plea by each to one felony count of excavating and removing archeological resources located on designated historic public lands in violation of the Archeological Resources Protection Act.  Jackie Arnold was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of fifteen (15) months and ordered to pay $24,357.77 in restitution.    Sandra Arnold was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of twelve (12) months and one (1) day ordered to pay $18,626.53 in restitution.    Wilemon was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of five (5) months and ordered to pay $7,164.05 in restitution.  Each were sentenced to one (1) year of supervised release following their term of incarceration.  Melinda Arnold was sentenced to five (5) years probation and ordered to pay $28,656.20 in restitution.  All of the restitution set forth above has been joint and several, meaning each defendant has been ordered to pay in conjunction with the other defendants, up to the amount set for each defendant.

 

Aguirre was sentenced on October 19, 2017, by United States District Judge Glen H. Davidson of Aberdeen following a previous guilty plea to two felony counts of excavating and removing archeological resources located on designated historic public lands in violation of the Archeological Resources Protection Act.  Aguirre was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay $2,865.62 in restitution.

 

Two other defendants have plead guilty to similar charges and are currently awaiting sentencing.

 

United States Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent in Charge Santiago stated “We are committed to working with Mississippi, its citizens, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nation and other federal and state agencies to conserve and protect Mississippi's archeological resources which are a non-renewable cultural resource of irreplaceable value, as well as sacred to descendant communities and Native Americans."

 

"The US Army‎ Corps of Engineers is thoroughly committed to the preservation and protection of these irreplaceable cultural treasures, treasures that hold great meaning to Native Americans and belong to the American People. We will continue to invest the necessary resources to investigate and support the prosecution of such cases in the future,” said Fuller, Chief of Operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District. 

 

This case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. 

 

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Topic(s): 
Indian Country Law and Justice
Wildlife
Updated October 23, 2017