Mammoth doctor pleads guilty to federal charges

Press release


FRESNO, Calif. — Jonathan Cornelius Bourne, 59, of Mammoth Lakes, pleaded guilty Monday to unauthorized transportation of archeological resources and unauthorized excavation, removal, damage, or defacement of archeological resources, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

On September 17, 2015, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Bourne, charging him with violations of the Archeological Resources Protection Act. Bourne had been collecting artifacts and archeological resources since 1994. He documented each item and has voluntarily turned over to the government an estimated 20,000 archeological items that he had collected from public lands. Bourne has agreed to pay $249,372 in restitution to the United States.

According to the plea agreement, on October 14, 2010, Bourne altered a small prehistoric site, cremation site, and burial cairns in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada. He removed glass trade beads and transported them to his home in Mammoth. On January 10, 2011, Bourne altered a large prehistoric site in Death Valley National Park and removed a tool made from a bighorn sheep horn and three incised stone tablets, which were found in Bourne’s home.

This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Assistant United States Attorney Laurel J. Montoya is prosecuting the case.

Bourne is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7, 2016, by U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. Bourne faces a maximum statutory penalty of two years in prison and a $20,000 fine for each count. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.


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10 Responses to Mammoth doctor pleads guilty to federal charges

  1. eastern sierra August 21, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    Maybe this time this family will learn that the law applies to them too

    • Rick O'Brien August 22, 2016 at 10:37 pm #

      OUCH !

  2. former Bishop resident August 19, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

    This is atrocious. Some people feel that they are above the law.

  3. Ed August 19, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    Looting is only OK if you have a permit from the ultimate crook, the Federal government.

    • High Desert August 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

      You should learn the definition of looting. Careful collection followed by preservation with access for qualified researchers isn’t the same as what this greedy self-obsessed sociopath was caught doing. If he is an archaeologist then every drug dealer in Mammoth is anesthesiologist.

  4. BobK August 19, 2016 at 5:41 am #

    Tinner. Are you really serious?

    • Tinner August 19, 2016 at 2:02 pm #

      Absolutely, why?

  5. Tinner August 18, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

    The crimes he is accused of are atrocious. What the heck was he thinking?
    Nothing sacred I guess, lock him up forever, he had over 20 years to change his ways.
    Dr. Bourne, meet karma.
    Prayers for his family.

  6. Trouble August 18, 2016 at 6:15 am #

    Incised? Is this about the drawing that were cut out of the cave a few years back?

    • john mellor December 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

      “Incised stone tablets” generally refers to rock slabs with some sort of engraving on them. I don’t think it refers to rock art that has been cut from it’s original placement.

      20,000 archaeological items seems far more serious than someone picking up an arrowhead or something found on top of soil. I realize that even that is technically against the law but I guarantee many have done it and would likely just get a slap on the wrist if caught.


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