Nevada man sentenced in stalking of artifact dealer’s family

July 28, 2018

A Nevada man was sentenced to three years’ probation Thursday after he admitted to stalking the daughter and granddaughter of artifacts collector Forrest Fenn by showing up at the women’s home in September in violation of a restraining order that had prohibited him from coming near them for 81 years.

Francisco “Paco” Chavezis one of the treasure hunters searching for a chest filled with gold, jewelry and other artifacts that Fenn, in his 2010 autobiography The Thrill of the Chase, said he had hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

This is the second time Chavez, 48, has been placed on probation for menacing the women. He violated his probation the first time by failing to report and tampering with an electronic monitoring device, according to court documents.

Chavez was sentenced to 364 days’ probation in 2016 after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges of stalking. According to court documents, he sent Fenn a package saying he’d solved the mystery of the treasure hunt by determining the treasure was Fenn’s granddaughter.

The package contained Google map photos of the house where Fenn’s daughter and granddaughter live. The package also included a photo of Fenn and his granddaughter on which he had written “Call your momma,” next to an image of a knife, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

Chavez also emailed Fenn saying he wanted to marry the granddaughter and went to the young woman’s place of employment in 2016, according to the affidavit.

According to court records he was arrested for violating his probation within 10 days of being sentenced in that case and ordered to spend the remaining 268 days of his sentence in the Santa Fe County jail. He also was convicted of escape from a community custody release program in relation to that violation, but has appealed.

Chavez was released from jail in July 2017 but was picked up in September after he went to the home where Fenn’s daughter and granddaughter live.

That incident resulted in the charges before the court Thursday, in which Chavez was charged with aggravated stalking in violation of a protective order and fourth-degree felonies punishable by up to 18 months in jail.

Under the terms of a plea deal accepted by state District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, Chavez will serve his probation in his home state of Nevada.

He’ll be on electronic monitoring until paperwork clearing that transfer is completed, according to the plea.

Asked to comment on the deal Thursday, District Attorney Marco Serna wrote in an email:

“After discussing all the options with the victims in this case, my office offered the plea. My primary concern is the safety of the victims in this case. Mr. Chavez plead guilty to two felony counts of [aggravated] stalking and will be moving out of the state. He will be under Nevada’s probation supervision.”

State Police Chief Pete Kassetas last summer called for Fenn to retrieve his treasure and put an end to the hunt after police pulled the body of a pastor out of the Rio Grande. The man was thought to have died while searching for the treasure.

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