Two people pleaded guilty in court to unlawfully excavating and damaging archaeological resources

Fort Smith, ARKANSAS – According to the statement, two people pleaded guilty in court to excavating and damaging archaeological resources. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced that Michael L. Walters, 64, of Heber Springs, and his wife Yvonne Jenay Walters, 55, each pleaded guilty to a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

According to the news release, this unfortunate incident occurred in the Buffalo National River. U.S. Park Rangers patrolling the Grinders Ferry area of the Buffalo National River and saw Yvonne Walters taking rocks and minerals from a gravel bar. Rangers later found Michael Walters digging nearby in what park records list as a prehistoric archaeological site, according to the release.

The couple admitted they had come to the park to search for rocks and artifacts, including Native American arrowheads. During the investigation, officials discovered that the couple had been to the same area previously to dig for rocks and artifacts.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office news release stated:

“Both were involved in searching for, locating, excavating, trading, and selling artifacts, and actively engaged in social media group communities with the same interests.”.

The court will determine the couple’s sentences at a later date. The maximum penalties for each defendant include imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $100,000. Michael and Yvonne also agreed to forfeit artifacts, tools and equipment and to pay $4,111 restitution to the National Park Service.

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