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Utah treasure hunter pleads guilty for digging through Yellowstone cemetery

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Treasure chest. (Getty Images)

A Utah man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday for treasure hunting crimes he committed while searching for a famous hidden cache of treasure in Fort Yellowstone Cemetery, which is inside Yellowstone National Park.

According to the Department of Justice, 52-year-old Rodrick Dow Craythorn of Syracuse, Utah pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Monday to charges of excavating or trafficking in archeological resources, and injury or depredation to United States property.

Craythorn admitted to digging for Fenn's Treasure in Fort Yellowstone Cemetery between Oct. 1, 2019 and May 24, 2020 inside Yellowstone National Park.

Fenn's Treasure, buried by Forrest Fenn a decade ago, was found in Wyoming in June 2020. The treasure was estimated to be $1 million worth of gold nuggets, rare coins, jewelry, and gemstones inside a treasure chest believed to have been forged in the 12th century.

US Attorney Mark Klaassen said:

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. The Defendant let his quest for discovery override respect for the law.”

Craythorn's first charge of excavating or trafficking in archeological resources could land him in prison for up to two years, along with a fine of $20,000. Craythorn's second charge of injury or depredation to United States property carries a much bigger punishment of up to ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

Craythorn is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17, 2021 in Casper, Wyo. at the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Court House.