A federal grand jury indicted Jared Ehlers, 35, of Moab, on Wednesday, March 12, on charges of removal of paleontological resources, theft of government property, depredation of government property and destruction of evidence related to the excavation and removal of a three-toed dinosaur track from the Hell’s Revenge trail in the Sand Flats Recreation Area in mid-February, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the release, the first count of the indictment alleges that Ehlers “knowingly excavated, removed, damaged or otherwise altered or defaced the three-toed dinosaur track, located on federal land,” which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; the second count, alleging that he took government property for his own use, carries a 10-year maximum sentence; the third count alleges he damaged and altered paleontological resources, carrying another 10-year maximum sentence; and the fourth count alleges he tried to destroy or conceal the track in an effort to obstruct the investigation, which carries a 20-year maximum sentence. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 45 years in prison.
As stated in the release, an indictment is not a finding of guilt and Ehlers is innocent until proven guilty. A summons will be issued for Ehlers to appear in federal court.
According to the release, the case is being investigated by BLM special agents and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Utah Department of Public Safety. Authorities searched an area of the Colorado River near Dewey Bridge for the track on Saturday, March 8. There are no immediate plans to resume the search.
Ehlers faces up to 45 years if convicted