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Sirens & Gavels

Artifact pillager gets probation, park ban

A Kettle Falls man who collects historic artifacts will be banned from Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area and serve three years probation for removing archaeological resources worth about $2,000.

Sandie Rae McNeil, 45, also will be on home detention for 30 days and will pay a $2,000 fine and $2,000 restitution, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. He's banned from the recreation site for three years.

Federal agents recovered projectile points, stone weights and tools, stone flakes, a gun cartridge and other protected archaeological objects from his Kettle Falls home in May 2005. McNeil told a park ranger he thought it was legal to remove the items.

In court documents, McNeil's lawyer described McNeil as a tire shop worker and lifelong Kettle Falls resident who "has seriously pursued his passion for collecting historical artifacts there."

"He knows the area as few do," his lawyer wrote. "He loves the area as few do."

In a prepared statement, U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby called the pillaging "reprehensible."

"It is nothing less than stealing the cultural heritage of our ancestors," he said.

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