Illinois man admits illegally selling prehistoric artifacts

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An Illinois man pleaded guilty Monday to a federal felony and admitted illegally digging up and selling prehistoric artifacts for years.

Leslie Jones, of Creal Springs, pleaded guilty to the unauthorized excavation, removal or damage of archaeological resources in federal court in Benton. As part of the plea, Jones admitted digging up and selling pottery fragments and other artifacts from the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge from 2004-2007. The refuge is located in southern Illinois north of Cairo.

Jones got between $20 and $40 per item, court documents say.

As part of the plea, Jones also agreed to pay the government $150,326 - $15,941 for the cost of repairing the damage from his digging and $134,385 representing the “archaeological value” lost.

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