Mono County Dr Pleads To Looting Indian Artifacts

Search
Go

Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 61 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
rwedgee

Ice climber
CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 16, 2016 - 07:35am PT
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-doctor-looting-artifacts-20160815-snap-story.html

Mono County doctor pleads guilty to looting Native American artifacts from public lands





Jonathan Bourne






Online photos of Jonathan Bourne, an anesthesiologist at Mammoth Hospital, digging a wooden bow from a melting glacier in the High Sierra launched a yearlong investigation. (Bob Burd)


By Louis Sahagun

August 15, 2016, 4:50 PM



A Mono County doctor pleaded guilty Monday to two felony counts connected to the looting of Native American artifacts from public lands, including Death Valley National Park.

Jonathan Bourne, 59, an anesthesiologist at Mammoth Hospital, also agreed to pay $249,372 to cover the costs of curating and storing about 20,000 relics that federal agents found in his home overlooking the High Sierra community of Mammoth Lakes, U.S. Atty. Phillip A. Talbert said.


The case stems from a yearlong investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that was launched after photos of Bourne digging a wooden bow out of a melting glacier in the High Sierra appeared on a hiking club website. Wooden splinters recovered at the glacier by federal archaeologists matched the bow in Bourne’s possession, officials said.

As part of his plea deal, Bourne will not be allowed on public lands administered by any of the four federal agencies; the period of the ban will be imposed Nov. 7 during sentencing in U.S. District Court in Fresno.
The Mammoth Mountain downhill and cross-country ski areas will also be considered off-limits, Talbert said.

Public lands within a one-mile radius of Bourne’s home were excluded so that he could attend to personal responsibilities including commuting to work and walking his dog, authorities said. However, the amateur botanist will not be allowed to collect mushrooms and other flora and fauna from any public lands.
In an earlier interview, Bourne declined to comment other than to say: "The blog has gotten me in trouble with the authorities. The bow in question has gotten me in trouble as well. It might have legal consequences."

A federal grand jury in 2015 charged Bourne with eight counts of unlawful transportation of archaeological resources removed from public lands; six counts of unauthorized excavation, removal, damage or defacement of archaeological resources removed from public lands; six counts of injury or depredation to government property; and one count of possession of stolen government property.




If convicted of all counts, Bourne would have faced up to 50 years in prison, according to the indictment. He also would have faced forfeiture of all vehicles and equipment used in connection with the violations.

Under the plea agreement, Bourne admitted to unlawfully removing glass trade beads in 2010 from a prehistoric cremation and burial site in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada. A year later, he unlawfully altered a prehistoric site in Death Valley National Park by removing a tool made from a bighorn sheep horn and three etched stone tablets considered sacred to the Timbisha Shoshone tribe.

Bourne faces a maximum statutory penalty of two years in prison and a $20,000 fine for each of the two felony counts. However, “the government has agreed not to request any time in custody for Mr. Bourne,” Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said.

phylp

Trad climber
Upland, CA
Aug 16, 2016 - 08:09am PT
Thanks for posting this. I remember this case and it's good to see the outcome.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
Aug 16, 2016 - 08:27am PT
I always wonder in cases like this what motivates these guys to possess these items for themselves as opposed to contacting the proper authorities to use them to further our understanding of the first peoples...

Once you have these items, then what? Show 'em to your friends? They are now in on the theft. Or did people assume he acquired these through "legal" means?

The amount of stuff buddy had is staggering. And yet he's well educated.

Wow. Just can't figure these guys out. At all.

Thanks for the post.
10b4me

Mountain climber
Retired
Aug 16, 2016 - 09:04am PT

I always wonder in cases like this what motivates these guys to possess these items

They sell them on the black market.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Aug 16, 2016 - 09:16am PT
Interesting story, and that this came to light via Bob Burd's 2014 Sierra Challenge. The LA Times photo is from Bob's report here:

http://www.snwburd.com/bob/trip_reports/divide_bm_1.html

just search the above page for "native american bow"

edit - pretty outrageous removing etched stone tablets from Death Valley! that is not at all ok.
canyoncat

Social climber
SoCal
Aug 16, 2016 - 09:39am PT
20,000 relics? He's an ass and got off easy.
ron gomez

Trad climber
fallbrook,ca
Aug 16, 2016 - 10:04am PT
If I took 20,000 pieces from a museum or gaured US Site would I get off as easy? Wonder if my employer would still pay me to work for them after I put their name out in this light? It's disgraceful what was done on both sides.
Peace
John M

climber
Aug 16, 2016 - 10:06am PT
I'm not defending him, but if you have ever collected arrowheads, then you are guilty too. Every tiny bit and piece counts as one artifact. So a tiny box of bits and pieces of arrowheads could easily add up into the hundreds or even thousands. It never attracted me, but I have friends who have collected since they were little kids. It was fairly common 60, 70 or more years ago. One friend has a fairly large collection, but he also donates the best pieces to a museum. Most of those then go into boxes at the museum and are rarely ever seen again because most museums already have great pieces and you can only display so many. It is legal to collect on private property.

Me.. I prefer leaving them in place because its fun to spot them. It takes you back to a different time.



Again.. I am not defending this guy.
Coach37

Social climber
Philly
Aug 16, 2016 - 10:07am PT
Wow. I had sympathy for the guy due to the size of the fine, thinking it was just the one thing, the bow. But thousands of artifacts? Different kettle of fish right there. And surely a doctor would be smart enough to know about antiquities act, NHPA, and NAGPRA.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Aug 16, 2016 - 10:26am PT
I'm glad that the artifacts will be curated/returned, etc., for proper preservation and the like. I don't really feel bad for this guy (apart from the fine), but, like John M, I kind of wonder at whether most would really be aware of the laws he or she would be breaking. I know ignorance of the law is no excuse, and 200,000 is a crazy amount of stuff, but there is a natural tendency to want to collect unique objects. We all do it. The history of civilization is ripe with examples of objects taken by and displayed by others. Ever been to the British Museum? A good outcome in this case in that the items are safe, but it's seems too easy to be too judgmental.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Aug 16, 2016 - 10:52am PT
I remember when everyone looked for arrowheads. The one thing that is probably OK about this guy is that he appeared simply to collect, rather than to sell in the black market. Still, it surprises me that a physician would act in either ignorance or defiance of a law almost everyone who uses the public lands knows and respects.

I think the relatively lenient penalty reflects the U.S. Attorney's office belief that the retention - rather than sale - of the artifacts, together with a quarter of a million dollar payment for curating them, together with felony convictions, together with a fine yet to be determined, constitutes sufficient punishment for what he did. It doubtless also reflects that he must have cooperated with authorities after the investigation started. The fact that the recovery of the bow was posted on a website is at least some evidence that he did not act in knowing violation of the law.

I don't know how the rest of you feel, but I know from personal experience that a federal felony conviction has lifelong, damning consequences. I'm not sure what would happen to someone who wasn't a wealthy physician who committed these acts, but based on my experience with the U.S. Attorney's office here, if that person was forthcoming and honest, and did what was in their power to rectify the situation, I suspect that person would face no detention either. If that person went to trial and lost, however, they'd be looking at a sentence of several years and a crippling fine.

John
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Aug 16, 2016 - 10:54am PT
Still, it surprises me that a physician would act in either ignorance or defiance of a law

Why? Are professionals immune to poor judgement and greed?

DMT
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Aug 16, 2016 - 11:02am PT
No, DMT. It's that professionals generally know the law better, and have much more to lose if they fail to follow it.

In addition, the training of physicians, in particular, involves an inculcation of duty that exceeds that of most other professions. I will admit, though, that in my "dorm" of 90 inmates at Taft, we had two physicians, a podiatrist, five attorneys, and numerous accountants -- but no dentists. So apparently dentistry attracts the most honest professionals.

John
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Aug 16, 2016 - 11:05am PT
Guessing the dude has OCD Pickers' Disease with an Antiquities Fetish to boot.

He'll do it again, if he can. He won't be able to stop himself.

DMT
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Aug 16, 2016 - 11:08am PT
It is unfathomable that a doctor, living in Mammoth Lakes, would be unaware that what he was doing is illegal. Guy is a jerk.
fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Aug 16, 2016 - 11:15am PT
People have always collected items from the past. Remember that the pillage of Egypt's antiquities was accepted for decades by the ultra-rich. The point at which grave robbing simply becomes collecting is merely a function of time and public sentiment.

The settlement seems fair. Sending him to prison would serve no good as he's not a threat. This way he has to fund his own little museum with artifacts that might have otherwise just been pocketed and lost or destroyed.

Another reason to never publicly to use "social media".
Dogfish

Trad climber
Mammoth
Aug 16, 2016 - 12:37pm PT
Dr. Bourne's brother was also a doctor in Mammoth and committed suicide in 2012 after being accused of "illegal communication with a minor to facilitate sexual activity," Got hubris?

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/04/local/la-me-mammoth-suicide-20120205
Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Aug 16, 2016 - 01:02pm PT
I don't know how the rest of you feel, but I know from personal experience that a federal felony conviction has lifelong, damning consequences. I'm not sure what would happen to someone who wasn't a wealthy physician who committed these acts, but based on my experience with the U.S. Attorney's office here, if that person was forthcoming and honest, and did what was in their power to rectify the situation, I suspect that person would face no detention either. If that person went to trial and lost, however, they'd be looking at a sentence of several years and a crippling fine.

An additional penalty not mentioned here, is that the felony conviction will almost certainly result in a revocation of his license to practice medicine.

The average Anesthesiologist makes about $300,000 a year. Being a relatively young 59 y/o, it is likely that he would have had another 10 years of practice, so he would be forfeiting about 3 million dollars in potential salary.

BTW, I think he should also have been fined for the agency(s) payroll for the people who had to investigate and prosecute this case. Taxpayers should not have to pay for this.
Bullwinkle

Boulder climber
Aug 16, 2016 - 01:09pm PT
For sure give the artifacts to the proper authorities. The same authorities that committed a genocide in the first place and put those remaining into open air jails (reservations) Instead of wasting money on chasing artifact hunters use the money for native Americans, but it's always much easier to ignore our mess than clean it up.
fear

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Aug 16, 2016 - 01:10pm PT
He should take the Hillary defense that his intentions were good ones.
Messages 1 - 20 of total 61 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
 
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks


Try a free sample topo!

 
SuperTopo on the Web

Review Categories
Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews