Thursday, 30 May 2019

Detectorist Defrauds Archaeological Organization of £11k

"you are an ambassador for our hobby.
Do nothing that might give it a bad name". NCMD Code of Conduct

NCMD representative in a field
According to Tom Mack of the Leicestershire Mercury, John Maloney the treasurer of an archaeology group stole more than £11,000 from his fellow members to help his family. He admitted in court that between 2012 and 2016 he 'systematically milked' the bank account of Leicestershire Fieldworkers by writing a string of six cheques to himself about once a year ('Man stole £11k from Leicestershire archaeology group to help ill family' Leicestershire Mercury, 30 May 2019). The crime was spotted in December 2016, and the thief was given the chance to repay the money, but was unable to.
When the group went to the police, Maloney was let off with a caution on the understanding he would pay the money back. But again he failed to do so. On Tuesday, the 54-year-old appeared at Leicester Crown Court for sentencing, having pleaded guilty to fraud, where a judge gave him a suspended jail sentence on the understanding he would pay back the outstanding money. The court heard that since he was charged, Maloney had successfully paid back more than £6,000 but about £4,000 was still outstanding [...] Andrew Howarth, representing Maloney, said his client worked as an administrator for the NHS and was not well paid. [...] He said his client was selling his coin collection to pay money back to the group and could also promise to pay £200 a month until the outstanding cash was repaid. Judge Timothy Spencer said he would accept the repayment plan but warned Maloney, of Hilders Road, Western Park, Leicester, he had to stick to it. He said: “You had an interest in archaeology, metal detecting and that sort of thing and then you turned to crime. “It was systematic milking of an account you were trusted to look after [...] the way to provide for family members is not to steal from others.” He gave Maloney an eight-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Maloney has promised to pay £200 a month to make good the outstanding debt - so the Leicestershire Fieldworkers will have their stolen money back only in January 2021.

This is a cautionary tale concerning the so-called 'partnership' between archaeologists and artefact hunters (unreflexively called 'citizen archaeologists' by some). Here we see an example of that partnership in action. Despite being known to be a metal detectorist [an individual whose hobby includes enriching himself through the acquisition of collectables through Collection-Driven Exploitation of  the archaeological record], this archaeological group naively entrusted oversight of their funds to Mr Maloney. Personally, my own experience inclines me to not trust any 'metal detectorist' with anything - but the Leicestershire Fieldworkers gave him the benefit of the doubt and he abused their trust for six years.

All this time Mr Maloney was one of the self-appointed leading lights of the UK detecting community, being a NCMD Representative, he was a frequent contributor to forums and discussion groups, often telling other detectorists what they "should" be doing, and being invited to speak at PAS conferences (scroll down to below the screen shot 'can detectorists (sic) be archaeologist (sic)?'). He also describes himself as an event organiser, charity fundraiser and fulltime NHS Slave, LCSS General Secretary. This raises the question of the funds passing through Maloney's hands in general, why did he choose to steal only (?) from the archaeology group? Because they trusted him?

By the way, all those detectorists that say the items they are removing from a landowner's property are not worth the farmer bothering to look at and formally assigning title might look at the mention of selling part of the private collection of those artefacts to raise several thousand quid at the drop of a hat. Archaeological collectables of course do have a substantial financial value. It is a shame that Maloney did not sell off those artefacts (after full PAS recording) to raise the money he needed instead of stealing it from the archaeological group. That way the detectorist was stealing twice from archaeology, stealing the knowledge by hoiking artefacts from their context and taking money from the amateur archaeologists of the Leicestershire group.

We look forward in the near future to the public discussions that have not yet been taking place in the social media, the detecting community as a whole and in the NCMD what action they intend to take concerning Mr Maloney's activities. Or will the whole thing be once again swept under the carpet - like they did in the case of their fellow caught selling Irish artefacts from Tipperary, a case that tends not to be discussed much, outside of my blog,  'Focus on UK Metal Detecting, With "Friends" like these, 'the Detectorist that Never Was' PACHI Wednesday, 22 May 2013  (here too) - but the PAS knows more that it is saying too.

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