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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Jackson County Man Pleads Guilty to Illegally Purchasing Native American Human Remains

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Mark M. Beatty, 56, of Wellston, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to violating the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act by purchasing human remains of Native Americans. The case is the first criminal enforcement of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in the Southern District of Ohio.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Division, Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier and Rick Perkins, Chief Ranger, National Park Service at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, announced the plea entered into today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Preston Deavers.

According to court documents, individuals were observed digging in a rock shelter in Salt Creek Valley in Jackson County, Ohio. When they were approached, they ran off into the woods and left behind shovels, dirt sifters, buckets and trash. Investigators confirmed that at least two individuals were digging on the property and had unburied human remains. Beatty admitted to purchasing those remains.

An anthropologist confirmed that the human remains were consistent with Native Americans, specifically identifiable by cradle boarding, a cultural activity used only by Native American Indians in North America. The identity of the remains was also confirmed by an archeologist, who verified that rockshelters were used extensively for burials in Southern Ohio and specifically in Jackson County.

DNA testing concluded a direct connection to present day Native American Indians living in the United States today.

“We are going to continue to investigate crimes against the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” Jackson County Sheriff Tedd Frazier said.

The parties involved in the case have agreed to a proposed sentence of three years of probation including three months home confinement, a $3,500 fine and restitution in the amount of $1,000 to the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, to be used for re-burial of the Native American remains. The remains will be transferred to the federally recognized tribes who have assisted with this case, and re-buried in Ohio at an undisclosed location and in private once all the court proceedings are completed.

Beatty has also agreed to publish an advertisement in a circulation warning others not to engage in illegal excavation of Native American bones and artifacts. As part of his plea, he has agreed to perform 100 hours of community service for a program that protects or promotes the interests of Native Americans.

U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the investigation by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and FBI and the participation from an archeologist from Wayne National Forest and researchers from Ohio University, The Ohio State University and Washington State University, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys J. Michael Marous and Brian Martinez, who are representing the United States in this case.

Updated February 4, 2016