Grants Pass Man Sentenced for Excavation and Removal of Archaeological Resources
MEDFORD, Ore –Ronnie Lester Bishop, 44, of Grants Pass, Oregon, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, in Medford, Oregon to five years of probation for violating the Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA). The sentence was imposed based on defendant’s guilty plea entered on February 8, 2016, to a felony charging him with violating ARPA by excavating, removing and damaging an archaeological resource located on federal land. In entering the guilty plea, Bishop admitted that between April 2013 and June 2014, he violated ARPA by digging on federal land managed by BLM and causing damage to a known archaeological resource. Bishop was documented excavating and removing items from the site on at least 21 different days between April 2013 and June of 2014.
While on probation, Bishop will be banned from lands managed by BLM, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Bishop was ordered to pay $ 9,871.49 in restitution for costs associated with restoring the archaeological site he damaged and perform 150 hours of community service. Bishop also forfeited over 700 archaeological items seized from his residence during a search warrant executed in June 2014.
“These archeological resources are of particular significance to the tribal communities, and the looting of these resources has a harmful impact on those communities,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “We will aggressively pursue those individuals who commit these violations of law.” ARPA protects archaeological resources on public and Indian lands. It provides felony-level penalties for unauthorized excavation, removal, damage, alteration, or defacement of any archaeological resource, which is defined as material remains of past human life or activities that are at least 100 years old. The archaeological resource at which Bishop committed his crime is located on federal land along the Rogue River which has served as several permanent Native American villages for over 8,000 years.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Land Management, the Grants Pass Police Department, and the Southern Oregon High Tech Crimes Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tim Simmons and Judi Harper prosecuted the case.