January 25th, 2010
In September 2009, Wesley Hodges and James Roberts were discovered illegally digging on private property in Burke County, Georgia. When state Department of Natural Resources Ranger Jeff Billips found the pair, they had already dug up piles of artifacts and human bone fragments.
Hodges and Roberts appeared before State Court Judge Jerry M. Daniel last Wednesday where they entered guilty pleas for excavating without written permission, criminal trespass, and littering.
Dr. Tersigni-Tarrant, a forensic anthropologist, confirmed the remains were human, specifically two adult metacarpals. Among the non-human items were pottery, chert, and a shell gorget (status symbol), which officials say are commonly sold at tradeshows across the nation.
The men did not have permission to dig on the premises.
Dave Crass, a state archeologist, stated that archeological sites are nonrenewable resources. “Nobody’s making any more four-thousand-year-old sites,” he said, adding that the law distinguishes between people who pick up arrowheads out of fields and folks who dig into archeological sites.
According to sentencing documents filed at the Burke County Clerk of Court’s Office, Judge Daniel sentenced Hodges and Roberts to three years probation, 24 days in jail (that may be served on weekends), 80 hours community service and a $3,000 fine. Restitution, which rangers said could be anywhere between $7,500-$25,000, was left open.
Two other men were arrested the day prior as they were heading to the same dig site.