THAT’S WEIRD: Mesa County man indicted for stealing fossils from conservation area

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DENVER | There’s no room in this world for rogue paleontologists.

Ricky Lee Armstrong, 54, of Mesa County appeared in U.S. District Court last week after a federal grand jury in Grand Junction returned a two-count indictment charging him with excavation, removal, and transport of paleontological resources.

The defendant made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher, where he was advised of the charges pending against him as well as his rights.  He was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

According to the indictment, from a date unknown, but no later than July 11, and continuing to on or about July 13, the defendant allegedly knowingly excavated and removed paleontological resources located in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, which is located near Grand Junction. He then transported the paleontological resources away from the area.

If convicted, Armstrong faces not more than five years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000, per count.

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty in a court of law.