Fort Sumter Visitor Indicted on Federal Charges
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Noah Sigalas, age 21, of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of damaging and defacing an archaeological resource (Fort Sumter) in violation of the Archeological Resources Protection Act, a violation of Title 16, United States Code, Section 470ee(a) and committing a depredation against property of the United States by forcibly pulling on a support pole or support bar which was stabilizing part of a casemate wall along the north flank of Ft. Sumter, causing damage in excess of $1,000, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1361.
United States Attorney Beth Drake stated that protecting the archeological resources of our district is important. “One of the main purposes of the Archeological Resources Protection Act was to provide for the enforcement of penalties against those who loot or vandalize valuable archeological resources. Prosecuting cases under this Act helps to send a message to those who visit our national parks that these historical locations should be preserved rather than vandalized.”
Ben Byrnes, Chief Ranger of Visitor and Resource Protection for Fort Sumter National Monument, said that law enforcement for the Parks Service vigorously investigates potential violations of law and takes acts of vandalism very seriously. He noted that the Fort system is a valuable resource for history and culture, and for learning for students. “The personal significance of Fort Sumter may be different for many people – but it is one of this country’s most recognized National Monuments. Fort Sumter’s construction began in 1829, and the brick Fort was unfinished when it was fired upon April 12, 1861 – starting the American Civil War. The Fort, reduced in size after years of war, retains many of its original bricks, made in the Low Country by enslaved African Americans. In fact, 90% of the bricks visitors see at the Fort today are original bricks. Seeing those unique and original bricks when you visit Fort Sumter is a powerful and humbling experience. These are not cast concrete blocks that are easily replaced. There is no machine to make ‘new’ handmade bricks from prior to 1860. Destroying any part of Fort Sumter brick is like literally erasing a page from the history of the United States.”
Acting Park Superintendent Laura Segars praised the work of the National Park Service investigators in investigating the case. She said that the Park Service was increasing its law enforcement presence in the local parks to prevent pilfering, theft, and vandalism. She noted that sometimes people steal bricks from the Fort, which is a federal crime.
Regarding potential penalties Sigalas faces, for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1361 (depredation of property of the United States), the potential penalty is a term of imprisonment of 10 years, a fine of $250,000.00, a term of supervised release of 3 years and a special assessment of $100.00. For a violation of 16 U.S.C. § 37022(a) (the Archeological Resources Protection Act), the potential penalty is a term of imprisonment of 2 years, a fine of $20,000.00, a term of supervised release of 3 years and a special assessment of $100.
Assistant United States Attorney Sean Kittrell is prosecuting the case and Special Agent Chris Schrader, from the Investigative Services Branch of the National Park Service, is the lead investigator.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in these indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Lance Crick (864) 282-2105
Updated May 11, 2017