Petroglyph thief gets 6-month prison term

A Pahrump man has been sentenced to six months in prison for removing a large petroglyph from the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

According to a statement released Thursday by the U.S. attorney's office, Michael Cook was sentenced March 30 by Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Reed Jr. in Las Vegas.

Cook, 58, pleaded guilty in October to a felony violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

He admitted that between March and September 2008, he removed a 300-plus-pound boulder containing the petroglyph from the Santa Cruz Springs area, near Pahrump. He placed the petroglyph, which depicted seven sheep, in his front yard.

Two members of the Southern Paiute tribe testified at sentencing that the petroglyph was removed from a sacred worship site.

Nye County Sheriff's Department officials discovered the petroglyph on June 24, 2009, when they went to Cook's house to execute a search warrant. They reported it to the U.S. Forest Service.