By Tim Binnall
A treasure hunter who was charged with illegally digging at Yellowstone National Park may face jail time after pleading guilty to the allegations surrounding his ill-fated quest for riches. A federal grand jury handed down indictments for excavating or trafficking in archeological resources as well as injury or depredation to United States property to Rodrick Dow Craythorn back in September. In announcing the charges at the time, authorities explained that the man had been digging in the Fort Yellowstone Army Cemetery, located within the national park of the same name, during a period between October of 2019 and May of 2020.
As was the case with an array of strange and unusual stories concerning treasure hunts gone awry over the last decade, at the center of this particular case was the infamous Fenn Treasure, which Craythorn apparently incorrectly believed was buried at the federally-protected cemetery. Faced with a potential 12 years in prison for his actions, the treasure hunter smartly cut a plea deal with federal prosecutors and will likely receive a considerably less severe punishment when he is sentenced in March. "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," US Attorney Mark Klaassen said in a press release announcing the guilty plea.