Missouri man accused of illegal dig at Native American site

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man and others broke into a prehistoric Native American archeological site and used shovels, rakes and other tools to dig up artifacts, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, according to a federal indictment.

Johnny Lee Brown, 70, of Clinton, Missouri, was charged in an 11-count indictment filed April 26 but unsealed and made public on Tuesday.

The indictment alleges that Brown, two known co-conspirators and others, excavated archeological items from federal land at Truman Lake near the town of Tightwad, Missouri, at least 10 times from June 2016 through September.

The site is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and located on a peninsula. It dates to the Late Archaic Period, 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. The indictment states that the findings indicate it was used as a camp site, as a location for stone processing, or both.

The suspects allegedly used small handheld trowels, shovels, rakes and hoes, and used buckets and backpacks to take items away from the site. The indictment does not state what Brown and the others allegedly did with the taken items.

The illegal excavation caused more than $300,000 in damage, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Kansas City said. Members of the Osage Nation told federal investigators that the damage “greatly impacts the cultural history of the Osage Nation and affiliated tribes,” the indictment states.

Brown’s attorney on Wednesday didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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