Mono County Dr Pleads To Looting Indian Artifacts


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Ken M

Mountain climber
Los Angeles, Ca
Aug 16, 2016 - 01:19pm 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.

Actually, no. They are all dead, and the current people are totally different.

Otherwise, we'd look at various Indian Nations based upon the atrocities of their forebears, and that is not how we should do things in America.

Trad climber
Portland Oregon
Aug 16, 2016 - 01:57pm PT
I was curious, so just looked at my medical records from emergency knee surgery in 2014 at Mammoth hospital after I took a fall.

The dude was the anasthesiologist. Nice guy and seemed really competent.

He got called in from vacation for the surgery.

Ice climber
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 16, 2016 - 03:29pm PT

The original bust; and previously paid $1 million restitution for starting a fire.

Ancient finds, modern laws: U.S. investigates doctor over 30,000 artifacts


Photos of Jonathan Bourne, an anesthesiologist at Mammoth Hospital, appeared on a hiking-club website.
(Bob Burd)

Louis SahagunBy Louis Sahagun•Contact Reporter

September 12, 2015, 10:00 AM |Reporting from MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIF.

In one photograph, Dr. Jonathan Bourne crouches over an ancient wooden bow sticking out of a melting glacier in the High Sierra. In another picture, he is digging the bow out of the ice with a rock.

The photos of Bourne, an anesthesiologist at Mammoth Hospital, appeared on a hiking-club website — and soon, he had visitors.

Federal agents searched Bourne's mansion in December, recovering roughly 30,000 ancient items they believe were unlawfully taken from hundreds of public land sites across the West: stone mortars, glass beads, projectile points and pendants. They also seized logbooks containing details of his archaeological finds.

Bourne, 59, has not been charged. Federal authorities are only now close to finishing their investigation, said Michael Grate, a U.S. Forest Service special agent. Wooden splinters recovered at the High Sierra glacier by federal archaeologists matched the bow in Bourne's possession, officials said.

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."

lSpecial Report

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The FBI sting that tore a hole in a Utah town

The investigation comes three years after Bourne's brother, Dr. Andrew Bourne, who served as chief of staff at Mammoth Hospital, committed suicide after his arrest on charges of illegal communications with a minor to facilitate sexual activity.

Mark Coleman, a Fresno attorney representing Jonathan Bourne, said his client is cooperating with investigators. "A large number of the artifacts he turned over to them were collected legally," Coleman said.

Bourne never intended to keep the bow, Coleman said. Instead, Bourne planned to "have a well known and respected archaeologist examine it, in hopes of determining what organization should receive the item," Coleman said.


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The website that carried the photos of Bourne's discovery included a post by Bob Burd, 58, a Fresno man who organized the hike into the Sierra National Forest.

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According to the post, Burd was hiking down a mountain in the area Aug. 19, 2014, when Bourne shouted that "he had discovered a Native American bow sticking out from the ice and rock in what remained of a glacier."

"He immediately procured some stone tools to start chopping out the ice around the bow to extract it," Burd's post said.

Later that day, the post says, "Jonathan would only say that he had been mistaken about his find and that it turned out only to be a stick, though he couldn't say this without a grin on his face."

Bourne's attorney and Burd disagree on what happened that day.

Michael Karch, an orthopedist in Mammoth Lakes and one of Bourne's close friends, described him as a humanitarian, environmentalist and member of the nonprofit Mammoth Medical Missions, which provides disaster relief overseas. Karch said Bourne "planned to donate his collection to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History when he died."

"This investigation is a waste of taxpayers' money," Karch said. "These are arrowheads, and they've been laying in the dirt for thousands of years."

That kind of talk rankles Craig Lee, an archaeologist with the University of Colorado and an expert in the study of ancient materials that are emerging from ice patches around the world as temperatures warm from global climate change.

"Permanent patches of ice and snow in the lower 48 states are only found on public lands," Lee said. "That means these naturally climate-controlled repositories of cultural artifacts are protected by federal law."

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The federal investigation is not the first time Bourne has run into trouble for his actions on public lands.

In 2011, Bourne and wife Penny paid $1-million restitution to the federal government for causing a fire in 2006 that burned about 7,435 acres of the Inyo National Forest. The fire was sparked by embers from a pit in which the couple had been burning brush.

Separately, in February, an Inyo County man was indicted on federal charges of excavating artifacts along the Eastern Sierra for decades despite objections by Native American leaders.

In 2013, thieves cut five petroglyph panels from an eastern Sierra site on Bureau of Land Management land north of Bishop. The panels were later recovered, but no arrests have been made.

Federal archaeologists and curators at Inyo County's Eastern California Museum are sorting through several thousand artifacts unlawfully collected by an Inyo National Forest district ranger who died in 1973.

Aug 16, 2016 - 05:29pm PT
Yeah, if you're going to do things that are illegal don't post photos of it online.

Sport climber
Shetville , North of Los Angeles
Aug 16, 2016 - 06:18pm PT
Johnathan is a friend... Peak bagger...Backcountry skier...X-country ski racer...Good guy , generous , to a fault always willing to help someone in need... Good at what he does in the medical field...If he has any faults , naivety might be it ...When Johnathan got busted , other collectors in town suddenly realized they could be prosecuted and hid their collections...Unfortunate situation...

Occupied Territory
Aug 16, 2016 - 06:21pm PT
He didn't get jail time because they knew his brother Jason would bust him out.

Sport climber
Shetville , North of Los Angeles
Aug 16, 2016 - 06:23pm PT
Jody..Smart ass...!

Occupied Territory
Aug 16, 2016 - 06:26pm PT

Sorry. :(

Sport climber
Shetville , North of Los Angeles
Aug 16, 2016 - 06:39pm PT
LMAO..Good one Jody..

Trad climber
east side
Apr 20, 2017 - 04:16pm PT
How a California Anesthesiologist Became One of America's Largest Antiquities Looters
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Apr 20, 2017 - 04:31pm PT
Super nice guy

One of his frequent hiking partners was John Dittli, and the two would often race each other up a mountain. One day they stumbled on a five-year-old plane crash. Bourne started digging through the wreckage, but Dittli wanted to move on. "It was early in the day, and I wanted to finish before dark," he says. But Bourne kept at it until he found a gold wedding band, which he pocketed.

. . . .and quite the humanitarian

It also seemed that Bourne was using some of his overseas humanitarian and adventure trips as a front to buy and hunt for other objects. "Bourne gave us extremely rare things that are not found in North America," says BLM archaeologist Greg Haverstock, who was tasked with taking inventory of the cache. In fact, when Haverstock saw a Mesoamerican prismatic obsidian core that was about 10,000 years old, he suspected that Bourne had procured the artifact during a 2011 medical mission to Chiapas, Mexico. (Bourne says he bought it at a museum gift shop.)

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Apr 20, 2017 - 04:42pm PT
Super smart, too.
In 2006, Jon and Penny cleared some brush from the property and burned it in a pit. By law, they should have applied for a burn permit, but they hadn't. Embers from the fire ignited a blaze that spread into Inyo National Forest, raging for nine days and consuming 7,500 acres. The cost to fight it topped $1 million, and five years later, the Bournes paid a $1 million fine.

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Apr 20, 2017 - 07:29pm PT
there are a few things wrong in that kiss and tell article with some ironic hypocrisy on behalf of one of the whistle blowers but anything to pump up a has been wanna- be... Glass houses and rock throwing...

Social climber
Apr 20, 2017 - 07:30pm PT
But sadly ...

Dittli, who stopped speaking to Bourne after his arrest, disagrees. "To be honest, he shouldn't be allowed on public land for a lifetime," he says. "When you're obsessed like Bourne is, you can't stop, and I don't see him stopping."

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 20, 2017 - 07:37pm PT
Amazing stuff, Kief. . .
I hope they tail him on his travels because he'll probably continue
to do it. . .
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
Apr 21, 2017 - 12:32am PT
Sierra Bourne - Post up sistr

Apr 21, 2017 - 02:45am PT
So a guy collects trash discarded from a previous civilization that would lie in dirt, ice or rocks on public lands and otherwise be neglected and ignored, and he then catalogs it and displays it nicely as a homage of appreciation of earlier societies' technological prowess and craftsmanship, and he not only gets arrested for it but then fined? Why not just place the artifacts in a museum for others to appreciate? Those fines and possible jail sentences are a ridiculous miscarriage of justice. Unless he came from money, he's blown through a sizable chunk of his hard earned retirement savings as a doctor.

$1M for accidentally starting a fire from embers from your burn pit?

If this guy doesn't become a raging anti-government jihadist, he must be bitter as hell. $1.3M in fines for this government BS? Give the guy a break and focus on real criminals like the timber companies deforesting old growth, strip miners, petrol companies fracking and creating pipeline environmental disasters, and other forms of government sanctioned abuse of public lands and tax payer money. Sheesh!

Sport climber
Sands Motel , Las Vegas
Apr 21, 2017 - 07:08am PT
The Feds should have payed Dr. Bourne for saving the artifacts.. Johnathon didn't seem bitter when i talked to him last..

Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Apr 21, 2017 - 08:26am PT

The archaeological value of artifacts like that is frequently in being able to analyze them in the location they are discovered. Pretty sure he's not a professional archaeologist trained to do that. And it's not his call as a private citizen to remove the stuff an rob the rest of us from seeing it as it was found. Certainly not his call to do that in foreign countries. And while he might not have been reselling the stuff, he was hoarding it from public view...not putting it in a museum.

And yes, the fire might have been an accident...but they were at best avoiding the law if not actively breaking it by not getting a burn permit. There is a reason for permits like make sure it's safe. Which, apparently it wasn't, and that cost the public a lot of money.

He may be a nice guy, and a good MD, but he deserves to be punished for these actions and I have zero sympathy.

Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Apr 21, 2017 - 08:34am PT
The English looted Greece for antiquities. The Greeks looted Greece for antiquities too.

Doesn't make it right; ever.

I don't even agree with UC Berkeley Bancroft library stealing summit registers for preservation. They belong in-situ, to rot as they will.

Leave it be! Put it back!

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