4 Texas residents plead guilty to theft of dinosaur bones

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Four people have pleaded guilty to charges related to disturbing and stealing dinosaur bones from a quarry near Capitol Reef National Park in Wayne County.

“Utah’s archaeological and natural treasures contribute greatly to its beauty and allure and are an important part of what makes our state unique,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement. “This case demonstrates that anyone who illegally takes, tampers with or disturbs our hidden treasures and natural resources will face criminal charges.

Philip Bukowski entered a guilty plea to one count of third-degree felony theft, Paige Bukowski entered a guilty plea to one count of Class A misdemeanor theft and Travis York entered a guilty plea to one count Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief.

The pleas were entered Friday before Judge Wallace Lee in Utah 6th District Court in Loa, the Utah Attorney General’s Office said in a statement. The fourth defendant, Crystal Webster, entered an earlier plea to one count of Class A misdemeanor theft.

The four Texas residents were part of a geology expedition from McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas.

The saga began in May 2015 when BLM received information that dinosaur bones had been illegally excavated and taken from an area near the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry on land managed by Bureau of Land Management and Utah State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, according to a report published in The Insider.

The quarry contains dinosaur fossils from the Jurassic Period which date back as much as 150 million years and includes one of the largest animals known, the long-necked Brachiosaurus.

It was found that the college group, which was on a geology field trip, had been in the area during the time the bones were taken. Bureau of Land Management agents were able to locate and seize approximately 60 pounds of dinosaur bones, the Attorney General’s Office stated.

Led by Philip Bukowski of Crawford, Texas, the group entered state trust land property, removed dinosaur bones and took them back to Texas. The individuals were also accused of damaging the area surrounding the dinosaur bones.

York and Webster were students who have completed their studies. Philip Bukowski, a college employee, no longer works for McLennan. Kubacak and Paige Bukowski were sponsors and are no longer associated with the college, the Waco Tribune reported.

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