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BLM returns artifacts long after Sisters raid

By Jim Cornelius

After a year-and-a-half battling the law enforcement division of the Bureau of Land Management, Steve Allely has regained virtually all of the artifacts seized by federal agents in an April 13, 1994 raid on Allely's home in Sisters.

The BLM returned Native American arrowheads and stone tools that Allely, an artist and flint-knapper, had collected over the years. No charges were ever brought against Allely in connection with the seizure.


The BLM did keep some pieces of mammoth bone and some small stone tools that Allely found on the Black Rock Desert in Nevada in 1992. Allely told The Nugget that those artifacts were actually found on the surface on private ranch land and he does not believe the agency has a right to keep them. He said he agreed to let the items go on the advice of his attorney.

It was those artifacts that pulled Allely into a federal dragnet that included a Los Angeles-based archaeologist and a prominent California attorney.

The raid on Allely's home was apparently triggered by a letter Allely wrote to attorney Patrick Hallinan after Allely met Hallinan and archaeologist Dr. Carl William Clewlow on a campout on the Black Rock Desert in 1992.

According to Allely, he and Hallinan and Clewlow had a conversation about what they considered overzealous and inappropriate BLM enforcement of the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.

Later, Allely wrote to Hallinan describing some points Allely found after the campout split up. Allely also sent Hallinan a point he had made. In the letter, Allely joked that Hallinan should eat the letter lest an "archeocop" find it.

Unfortunately for Allely, they did.

Hallinan was then under investigation in a drug smuggling case. One of Hallinan's clients, convicted marijuana smuggler Ciro Wayne Mancuso, had made a deal with federal prosecutors and as part of the deal implicated Hallinan in a conspiracy to smuggle marijuana and launder the profits.

Hallinan was aquitted of all charges in that case in March of 1995, but during the investigation authorities found the Allely letter and launched an investigation into possible violations of the Archaeological Resource Protection Act.

BLM law enforcement personnel raided Allely's home, Hallinan's home and Dr. Clewlow's offices on the same day, April 13, 1994, confiscating artifacts from Allely and Hallinan and lecture notes and slides and replica artifacts from Dr. Clewlow.

Allely and Clewlow both contend that the raids were designed to help the federal government build some kind of case against Hallinan.

"I think it was all an attempt to get Patrick Hallinan," Dr. Clewlow told The Nugget.

"The government was just trying to shake up anyone who had the misfortune of knowing him," Allely said. "It was obvious that they wanted stuff about Pat.

"I really think they thought in their minds that there was some weird archaeological conspiratorial thing going on," Allely said.

No one with the BLM law enforcement division or with the U.S. Attorney's office would comment on any aspect of the case.

According to Hallinan, the ARPA investigation was spurred by the U.S. Attorney's office because their drug case against him was shaky.

"These punks were just running dogs for the U.S. Attorney in Reno, Nevada," Hallinan said.

No ARPA charges were filed against Hallinan and he told The Nugget that the property seized during the BLM raid on his home was returned to him about six months ago.

Although he was never charged with any crime, Allely said he feels as though he was punished by the government.

"Even if the federal government doesn't charge you with anything, they have unlimited resources to wear you down," Allely said.

"I lost 30 pounds and got really ill," he said.

At one point, Allely reported, BLM law enforcement special agent William Elliott threatened his career, saying that he could "make sure nothing happened" to Allely's artifact replication business if he cooperated in the BLM investigation.

Dr. Clewlow reported similar intimidation tactics from Elliott and from Special Agent William Bathke of the BLM southern California office and Adalberto Tapia, a BLM agent attached to the California State Office in Sacramento.

Authorities found an ounce-and-a-half of marijuana in Dr. Clewlow's office during the BLM raid, which Dr. Clewlow maintains was not his.

According to Clewlow and his attorney, the California Highway Patrol sent approximately eight patrol units to arrest Dr. Clewlow at gunpoint on the eastbound Ventura Freeway in Los Angeles on June 1, 1994. BLM agents then took the archaeologist to the Los Angeles County Jail where he was lodged overnight.

Dr. Clewlow's attorney reported in a letter to the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility that the BLM agents subjected Dr. Clewlow to threats and coercion in an effort to secure his cooperation in the case against Hallinan.

"I was told that if I testified in the ARPA case they `would make the drug problem go away,'" Dr. Clewlow said.

Dr. Clewlow said he has completed a drug diversion program to clear himself of the marijuana charge. He said he has not yet had his property returned, although he believes there will not be any ARPA charges filed against him.

Allely said he and his attorney met with the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility and with the BLM's Inspector General to discuss what they consider inappropriate police actions in the case.

Patrick Hallinan does not believe that anything will come of government investigations or inspectors general reports.

"That's like the wolves punishing the wolves for attacking the sheep," he said.

"There is no action you can take," Hallinan said. "The government is immune. They can abuse you and you can't do anything. And if they don't get what they want, they just walk away and you can go to hell."

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