Carving Your Name Into 1000-Plus-Year-Old Petroglyphs Could Earn You 60 Months Probation...At Least

A North Carolina man was sentenced to 60 months' probation for scratching his name into petroglyphs along the Colorado River that are more than 1,000 years old.

In addition to the probation, Trenton Austin Ganey must pay $10,000 restitution and complete 100 hours community service after admitting to carving "Trent" into the ancient artwork.

"This defendant thoughtlessly defaced a work of art that is over 1,000 years old and holds immense cultural significance," U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke says. "This prosecution should serve as a lesson to others who would damage, destroy, or disturb Arizona's precious cultural resources. This office will diligently investigate and fully prosecute these crimes for the benefit of generations to come and for the Native people of Arizona who trace their ancestry back to those who created these cultural treasures."

Ganey was on a fishing trip on the river just below the Glen Canyon Dam in December of last year when he used a rock to carve his name into a petroglyph known as "Descending Sheep Panel."

Park rangers noticed the damage shortly after Ganey's group left the area.

Ganey, apparently, had no idea how old the petroglyph is. When confronted by the rangers about the damage, he admitted to doing it and "expressed remorse" when told the artwork is more than 1,000 years old, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ganey even agreed to an interview with the Arizona Daily Star, in which he tried to deter others from damaging petroglyphs.

Ganey's published mea culpa probably earned him points with his sentencing judge -- Judge Neil Wake noted his "sincere remorse" before sentencing him to no jail time for the Class E felony.

Lesson: don't damage ancient artwork -- but if you do, act really, really sorry about it. 

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James King
Contact: James King