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Missouri Archaeologist Charged with Artifact Theft

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  • Missouri Archaeologist Charged with Artifact Theft

    MU professor, researcher charged with illegally taking artifacts
    Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 2:00 pm Comments (2)
    A University of Missouri professor and a research specialist, along with a researcher from a Dallas university, recently were charged in rural southeastern Washington with taking artifacts from a national forest in 2013 without the proper permits.

    While on a research trip to the Umatilla National Forest and Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, the trio removed more than 93 items from seven sites in 2013 in violation of the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act, according to court documents filed in Columbia County, Wash.

    R. Lee Lyman, professor of archaeology at MU, was charged June 30 with second-degree theft, second-degree malicious mischief and making false or misleading statements to a public servant. Matthew T. Boulanger, who is listed on university websites as a research specialist but was a doctoral candidate at the time, and Dave N. Schmitt, a research affiliate at Southern Methodist University, were both charged with second-degree theft and second-degree malicious mischief.

    Lyman, Schmitt and Boulanger brought the artifacts to Missouri before handing them over to the U.S. Forest Service at the agency’s request, according to court documents. They did not use a Forest Service-issued radio or any other means to contact law enforcement or other authorities “to notify the United States about the collection of artifacts” as required, the documents said. None of them pulled the proper permits for removing the items, authorities allege.

    “The artifacts were not just arrowheads, but also lithic debitage, the byproducts of tool making that a layperson would probably not immediately recognize, and are important contextually in an archeological and anthropological sense,” the charging document said.

    An article the men wrote about the excursion that was cited in the investigation report says no excavation was done and that there was minimal collection of artifacts. The artifacts collected, the article said, were taken because they were visible and could be removed by people using the trails and camping areas in the wilderness.

    All three were arraigned July 22. Boulanger appeared via telephone and Schmitt and Lyman had attorneys appear for them. Schmitt pleaded not guilty and the other two did not enter any plea. Lyman and Boulanger’s next court date is Sept. 2, and Schmitt had another hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

    MU spokesman Christian Basi said the university did not have much to say about the charges.

    “We are aware of it,” Basi said, “but beyond that we can’t really discuss anything, especially related to any type of personnel action.”

    The mischief charge carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Second-degree theft carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Making false statements can land Lyman in jail for as long as 364 days and a fine of $5,000.

    Lyman, 64, did not respond to a voicemail message and email seeking comment. Boulanger, 38, did not respond to an email from the Tribune. Reached by phone, Schmitt denied the charges but declined to comment.

    “It’s a thorn in our side and completely unfounded,” Schmitt, 55, said. “I’m not going to make any comments.”
    Last edited by CMD; 08-17-2015, 09:14 PM.
    Rhode Island

  • #2
    No pics?


    • #3
      Ahh the refreshing power of karma. Great read
      Montani Semper Liberi


      • #4
        Bad apples on all ends of the spectrum, just like the looters who give honest law- biding collectors a bad rap... Im sure the artifacts pocketed there are probably "pocket change" compared to artifacts that have been placed in private collections by some professionals...Its just bound to happen like that on occassion, regardless of ethics, laws or wich side of the artifact world you stand on.
        Josh (Ky/Tn collector)


        • #5
          From the sound of it they were just surface collecting like your average Joe. Though pretty ironic they broke laws they helped put in place. I agree with you Josh. Bad seeds on every front
          Montani Semper Liberi


          • #6
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            Last edited by Olden; 08-17-2015, 11:50 PM.
            If the women don\'t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.


            • #7
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              If the women don\'t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.


              • #8
                olden, the last one with Kraemer in it says it all


                • #9
                  Here's a PDF file of the court papers....


                  The first comment in the article to start this threat stated that federal charges were dropped.

                  Oh yeah, Olden, they were all great!
                  Rhode Island


                  • #10
                    It's tough to see someone screw up their career over a few bits of noncontectual debitage: that may be worse than the 90 days, and thousand $ fine.
                    If the women don\'t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.


                    • #11
                      Sounds to me like some ambitious bureaucrat is anxious to have some scalps (convictions) to hang on his lodge pole. Not all that much different from ticket/arrest quotas for police, but without the financial incentive.

                      People today need to understand what their grandparents did : that any power accorded to government can and eventually will be used against them. That's why governmental power was made de-centralized and weak by the founding fathers by design.

                      Power, to some people, is like a toy -- it's no fun if you can't play with it. Seen it too many times. New Sergeant Syndrome.


                      • #12
                        AMEN TO THAT!!
                        If the women don\'t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Olden View Post
                          AMEN TO THAT!!
                          Rhode Island


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CMD View Post

                            Michigan Yooper
                            If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything