Grave robbery charges dropped in plea agreement.

Grave robbery charges were dropped against Carson City resident Janice Hershey on Monday as part of a plea agreement on a check forgery charge.

In exchange for a guilty plea to passing a forged check in the amount of $1,252, prosecutors promised they will no longer pursue a charge that Hershey, 33, and David Shaughnessy, 38, stole a skull from a crypt in the Lone Mountain Cemetery.

The skulls of Patrick Henry and Susan Clayton, best known for their involvement in the development of the Nevada Democratic Party, were stolen on Nevada Day 1997.

The case came to prosecutors' attention when Shaughnessy was caught attempting to sell Henry Clayton's skull last year.

Shaughnessy told investigators that he, and then-girlfriend Hershey, pried the crypt open. He said that she went inside with a hammer and used it to severe the skulls.

As part of a guilty plea agreement, Shaughnessy testified that he then sold the skull of Susan Clayton to Nanette Birdsell for $400 and an equivalent amount of methamphetamine. After several court appearances, Birdsell, 36, admitted her part in the crime. She returned the skull, and both were replaced as part of a small ceremony on Jan. 23.

Shaughnessy and Birdsell received suspended prison sentences in exchange for their guilty pleas.

On the check forgery charge, Hershey faces a maximum four-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. She will also likely be ordered to pay restitution.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 15.


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