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Professor pleads to N.M. artifact theft

March 2, 2011 at 3:50 PM

CHICAGO, March 2 (UPI) -- A Chicago academic will serve a year's probation for his part in a scheme to plunder artifacts from an archaeological site in New Mexico, authorities said.

The U.S. attorney's office in New Mexico said Loyola University Chicago Professor Daniel Amick pleaded guilty to violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act by removing 17 artifacts, including arrowheads, from public lands on two field trips to New Mexico, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

As part of the plea agreement, Amick promised to return the artifacts and help Bureau of Land Management investigators track down others still missing.

If Amick keeps to the terms of his probation, the judge in the case has agreed to drop the charge, Amick's attorney said.

"The judge is saying that Dr. Amick made a mistake. Because it was associated with research, he agreed to drop the charges," attorney Douglas McNabb said. "He won't have a record."

Johna Hutira, a member of the Society of American Archaeology, said these kinds of allegations are troubling for archaeologists.

"It's a short jump from a person removing artifacts to wholesale looting," Hutira said.

In general, "if you want to go collect information, you need to get an archaeological permit," Hutira said. "If it's federal lands, you have to play by federal rules."

Amick's actions were driven by academic pursuit and had he applied for a research permit he would have been granted one, McNabb said.

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