Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Looters Jailed Volume 51 Number 1, January/February 1998
by Ike Kelley

John N. Walker and Jeffrey S. Blevins pleaded guilty in federal district court in Richmond, Virginia, to one felony count each of conspiracy to violate the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) and were sentenced to four and five months in prison, respectively. They were arrested last April at Petersburg National Battlefield, a protected Civil War site in Virginia. In their possession were metal detectors, entrenching tools, and freshly dug artifacts. Search warrants and interviews led to the recovery of more than 2,000 looted Civil War artifacts from the two men, the largest ARPA violation on record.

After their release, the two will serve a year's probation, including a term of home incarceration equivalent to their jail time, to be monitored electronically. Substance-abuse treatment was ordered for Blevins. Each man was ordered to pay $25,467.08 in damages to the Department of the Interior, plus $100 to a crime victims' fund. In handing down the sentence, Judge Richard L. Williams observed that "Civil War buffs are a cult all their own," adding that he hoped "all those buffs who have a craving for artifacts [would] be tempered in the future" and that the sentences would deter those who wished "to invade protected territory."

Ike Kelley is with the National Park Service.

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© 1998 by the Archaeological Institute of America