By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A man who was found digging in a cemetery inside Yellowstone National Park while hunting for Forrest Fenn’s mysterious treasure chest has pleaded guilty to causing damage to the park.
Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, of Syracuse, Utah, pleaded guilty to charges of excavating or trafficking in archeological resources and injury or depredation to United States property in U.S. District Court on Monday.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury in September.
The indictment alleged that Craythorn was found digging in the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery inside the national park between Oct. 1, 2019 and May 24, 2020 while looking for the treasure buried by Fenn.
The treasure was found earlier this year by a Michigan man. Fenn died a few months after it was discovered.
“The hunt for the Forrest Fenn treasure was often viewed as a harmless diversion, but in this case it led to substantial damage to important public resources,” said US Attorney Mark Klaassen. “The defendant let his quest for discovery override respect for the law.”
Excavating or trafficking in archeological resources carries a potential penalty of up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, and one year of supervised release. Injury or depredation to United States property carries a penalty of not more than ten years imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl accepted Craythorn’s plea and scheduled his sentencing to take place on March 17 in Casper at the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Court House.