Sacramento, California - Timothy Brian Harrison, 50, of South Lake Tahoe, was sentenced Tuesday by United States District Judge John A. Mendez to one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay $113,000 in restitution for two counts of excavation and removal of archaeological resources from public lands and one misdemeanor count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Harrison conducted illegal digging at prehistoric Native American archaeological sites on federal lands in Alpine and El Dorado Counties, near Lake Tahoe. He collected tens of thousands of ancient artifacts from multiple archaeological sites, and virtually destroyed two very significant archaeological sites. Archaeologists explained that Harrison’s conduct led to the irreplaceable loss of unique historical information. Archaeologists learn the cultural history of the prior inhabitants from artifacts left behind by the inhabitants by carefully documenting where the artifacts are found, and looting of the artifacts destroys that context.
Representatives of the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada spoke about the impact on the tribe from this destruction of sites. They explained that Harrison’s digging erased their past and interfered with the tribe’s ability to teach younger generations about their history and culture.
This case was the product of an investigation 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. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel Wong, Christopher S. Hales, and Miriam R. Hinman prosecuted the case.
Harrison is out of custody and was ordered to self-surrender to begin serving his sentence on April 23, 2019.