Utah Individuals Indicted for Alleged Conspiracy Against the United States, Theft of Dinosaur Bones


A federal grand jury in Utah indicted four individuals on charges of conspiracy against the United States.

The accused are alleged to have stolen over $1 million worth of paleontological resources, including dinosaur bones, from federal and state lands in southeastern Utah. This act is a clear violation of the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA).

The indicted individuals include Vint Wade, 65, and Donna Wade, 67, from Moab, Steven Willing, 67, from Los Angeles, California, and Jordan Willing, 40, from Ashland, Oregon.

They stand accused of causing damages amounting to $3 million by stealing these invaluable paleontological resources from federal land.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah released a statement detailing the alleged criminal activities of the defendants.

From March 2018 until at least March 2023, the defendants reportedly purchased, transported, and exported dinosaur bones from federal land. They are also accused of knowingly concealing and retaining stolen property of the United States.

The Wades allegedly purchased paleontological resources removed from federal land by paying cash and checks to known and unknown unindicted individuals. These individuals removed the dinosaur bones for the Wades’ personal use.

The Wades then stockpiled these resources to sell at gem and mineral shows to national vendors and to sell some of the illegally obtained resources to Steven and Jordan Willing.

The Willings, using their company JMW Sales, are accused of exporting the dinosaur bones to China.

They allegedly mislabeled the dinosaur bones and deflated their value to avoid detection by federal agents. This elaborate scheme not only undermines the law but also threatens the preservation of our nation’s rich paleontological heritage.

In addition to selling over $1 million in paleontological resources, the defendants are alleged to have caused over $3 million in damages.

This figure includes the commercial value of the resource, the scientific value of the resource, and the cost of restoration and repair. The loss is not just financial, but also cultural and scientific, as these stolen dinosaur bones held immense scientific value.

U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins expressed her concern over the situation, stating by removing and processing these dinosaur bones for profit, they lost virtually all scientific value.

This leaves future generations unable to experience the science and wonder of these bones on Federal land. She affirmed the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office and their law enforcement partners to protect paleontological resources throughout the State of Utah.

The defendants are scheduled for their first court appearance on October 19. This case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of preserving our nation’s paleontological resources and the severe consequences that await those who seek to exploit them for personal gain.