It’s game over for these tomb raiders
Any would-be Indiana Jones should be brought up short by the fate of Bobbie Wilkie, sentenced to more than three years in federal prison for stealing American Indian relics.
In addition to the prison time, a Las Vegas federal judge ordered Wilkie to pay $102,000 in restitution.
The Oklahoma City man received the longest prison sentence ever for a first-time offender in a case involving stolen artifacts.
But what a first-time offender.
Wilkie; his former wife, Carson City resident Deanne Wilkie; and three others took more than 11,000 artifacts and damaged 13 archaeological sites in Nevada and California so they could display the items in their homes and storerooms.
According to federal prosecutors, the Wilkies and Frank Embrey researched books, documents and maps of public lands to find the artifacts in Nevada and California.
Then they excavated sites, damaging archaeological locations including White Cliff Petroglyphs and Kane Springs Wash about 100 miles north of Las Vegas.
We’re not just talking about arrowheads and stone grinders either.
Prehistoric American Indian remains were found in one defendant’s storage area. Baskets, figurines, sandals, pendants were among the items taken during the period when Wilkie and his group were raiding archaeological sites.
Federal investigators visited more than 50 archaeological sites over two years in pursuit of Wilkie’s conviction and sentence.
All of what Wilkie and his group took has been seized by the government. Most of the items will be returned to the tribes.
Prosecutors estimated the Wilkie group did more than $500,000 in damage. But what price do we put on our heritage?
No amount of money can put those artifacts back in their original sites. No amount of money can restore the damage done in the name of selfishness.