A Utah man who dug up graves at Yellowstone while searching for Forrest Fenn's $1 million treasure is facing up to 12 years in prison

Kelly McLaughlin
Yellowstone National Park closed to visitors on March 24, 2020 because of the Covid-19 virus threat to communities sounding Yellowstone.
Yellowstone National Park closed to visitors on March 24, 2020 because of the Covid-19 virus threat to communities sounding Yellowstone. William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images
  • Rodrick Dow Craythorn, of Syracuse, Utah, is facing up to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to digging up graves at Yellowstone National Park while searching for the famed Forrest Fenn treasure. 

  • Prosecutors said in a statement that Craythorn was found digging up graves at Fort Yellowstone Cemetery inside the national park between October 1, 2019, and May 24, 2020.

  • He pleaded guilty to charges of excavating or trafficking in archaeological resources, and injury or depredation to United States property on Monday.

  • Fenn's $1 million treasure, which launched a decade-long search, was found by a 32-year-old from Michigan last year.

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A man from Utah is facing up to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to digging up graves at Yellowstone National Park while searching for the famed Forrest Fenn treasure before it was found by someone else last year.

Rodrick Dow Craythorn, of Syracuse, Utah, pleaded guilty to charges of excavating or trafficking in archaeological resources, and injury or depredation to United States property on Monday, according to the US Attorney's Office District of Wyoming.

Prosecutors said in a statement that 52-year-old Craythorn was found digging up graves at Fort Yellowstone Cemetery inside the national park between October 1, 2019, and May 24, 2020.

He was looking for Fenn's treasure, prosecutors said.

Fenn, who died in September, hid $1 million in gold, jewels, and other valuables in the Rocky Mountains more than a decade ago, and spent years posting clues online that led people on a cross-state search.

At least five people have died searching for the treasure, and there have been multiple court cases filed over the chest, by people claiming they were misled or followed during their failed searches.

The treasure was found in June, by Jack Stuef, a 32-year-old medical student from Michigan. Stuef identified himself in an interview to Outside magazine, in which he said a recent lawsuit threatened his anonymity.

Craythorn, meanwhile, was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 16.

"The hunt for the Forrest Fenn treasure was often viewed as a harmless diversion, but in this case it led to substantial damage to important public resources," US Attorney Mark Klaassen said in a statement.  "The Defendant let his quest for discovery override respect for the law."     

Craythorn faces up to 12 years in prison and fines of up to $270,000.

His sentencing is scheduled for March 17.

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