Man who illegally dug up Native American artifacts gets 1 year in prison

Top Stories
timothy-brian-harrison-artifacts-2019-03-01_1551582291337.jpg

(CBS NEWS)– A South Lake Tahoe man has pleaded guilty to charges of excavation and removal of archaeological resources from public lands after federal agents found tens of thousands of Native American artifacts in his home, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. Timothy Brian Harrison, 50, was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a day in prison, and was ordered to pay $113,000 in restitution. 

He was also charged with one count of misdemeanor count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine.

The arrest followed a years-long investigation in the Sierra Nevada where feds say Harrison dug the artifacts up illegally, CBS Sacramento reports.  

A single snapshot entered into evidence shows what federal agents describe as a treasure trove of Native American artifacts looted from the archeological sites. 

Miriam Hinman, one of the federal prosecutors that handled the case, spoke to CBS Sacramento about the case. Hinman also has a master’s degree in archeology and chose to be on this case because of her passion for examining artifacts.

“The illegal digging, in this case, desecrated ancient sites that were important to the Washoe tribe, and were unusually valuable to archaeologists,” Hinman said.

Court documents show Harrison spent more than a decade digging up more than a dozen sites in Alpine and El Dorado County ranging from hundreds to thousands of years old.

The area is the ancestral homeland of the Washoe tribe. Darrel Cruz, t he tribe’s director of historic preservation, told CBS Sacramento that “every time they take away an artifact, it takes away a piece of the history, the puzzle that makes up that history.”

Federal agents were tipped to the illegal digging by hikers. Court documents show investigators then began following Harrison’s movements by installing covert surveillance cameras around the archaeological sites. They also used GPS tracking on Harrison’s truck.

Eventually, court documents show they found approximately 302 pounds of artifacts in Harrison’s home. None of the artifacts were sold..

“He kept these things for himself, in his house,” Hinman noted to CBS Sacramento. 

After a decade of digging, destroying centuries of archeological evidence, Harrison has pled guilty and has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

The federal government is working with the Washoe tribe on finding the appropriate place to house those artifacts. 

The massive investigation was conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, California State Fish & Wildlife Service, California Highway Patrol, and Alpine County Sheriff’s Department, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Clear

Abbeville

59°F Clear Feels like 59°
Wind
12 mph NNW
Humidity
33%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A clear sky. Low 32F. Winds light and variable.
35°F A clear sky. Low 32F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
7 mph NNW
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Crowley

57°F Clear Feels like 57°
Wind
12 mph NNW
Humidity
44%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

A clear sky. Low 33F. Winds light and variable.
35°F A clear sky. Low 33F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
7 mph NNW
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Opelousas

56°F Clear Feels like 56°
Wind
14 mph NNE
Humidity
42%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Clear skies. Low 32F. Winds light and variable.
35°F Clear skies. Low 32F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
7 mph NNW
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

Breaux Bridge

59°F Clear Feels like 59°
Wind
18 mph N
Humidity
39%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Clear skies. Low 33F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
35°F Clear skies. Low 33F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
Wind
7 mph NNW
Precip
10%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous
Clear

New Iberia

61°F Clear Feels like 61°
Wind
13 mph N
Humidity
42%
Sunrise
Sunset

Tonight

Partly cloudy. Low 36F. Winds light and variable.
32°F Partly cloudy. Low 36F. Winds light and variable.
Wind
3 mph N
Precip
0%
Sunset
Moon Phase
Waning Gibbous

Local News

More Local

Sidebar

Trending Stories