Man Finds Hundreds Of Buddhas In American River

By | March 2, 2006
“History or hoax? That’s the question many people are asking in the Placer County town of Colfax after a local prospector claims he found hundreds of little Buddha figurines along the American River. Herman Henry says he found about 400 of the Buddha carvings in a washed out sandbar buddahheadsalong the River more than a month ago. The thumb-sized, white carvings may be hundreds of years old. And now federal and state investigators are looking into the discovery and are looking for Mr. Henry. CBS 13 was able to locate Henry Thursday night. “I don’t want to go to jail,” prospector Henry told CBS 13, “I don’t know what I did wrong. So I’ve been hiding.”

Fellow Colfax resident Jim Bowers bought more than 200 of the heads and was selling them at his convenience store. Bowers made some very public attempts to try to find out more about the Buddha’s may have launched the state and federal investigation. On Wednesday, federal authorities seized what was left of the Bowers’ Buddha collection. “I asked them what right do you have to seize them? Do you have a court order? Do you have a search warrant? What are my civil rights?,” Bowers told CBS 13’s Patti Lee, “And he said, ‘we can arrest you or you can turn over everything you have.”

There are several hundred of the Buddha head floating around the town of Colfax. Several residents showed theirs to CBS 13’s Patti Lee. “It’s hard for me to believe that there were just 500 of them laying in the middle of the river in the condition that they are in,” said State Park Ranger Donna Turner who has many question for Mr. Henry, “Where he found them? Were they in the park? Did he know that by taking them out of the park, it was a crime?”

According to the law, if you find a gold nugget in the American River, you can keep it. But if you find a historical artifact and keep it, you could be charged with defrauding the government. Herman Henry says he’s not hiding from anybody, but he has buried the rest of his stash of little statues, and he’ll go to jail to protect them if he has to. Investigators have not decided if they will charge him with a crime. And of course, there is the question about the age and authenticity of the Buddha heads.” – cbs13

The charge of theft of an artifact I understand, but “defrauding the government” if these artifacts are real? What fraud?

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