Treasure hunter settles dispute

by Caveat Lector

By Mark Oswald
Journal Staff Writer
Oct 25, 2013

A Wyoming man who was part of a search for buried gold has reached an agreement with prominent Española businessman Richard Cook and his family, resolving a dispute that prompted the Cooks to seek a restraining order.

Gale Roberts of Jackson Hole, Wyo., says he was part of a team that searched Cook property on Black Mesa north of Española for the gold earlier this year, and he then had a falling out with the rest of the team.

He’s been barred from accessing the mesa site.

Last month, Cook and family filed for a restraining order to keep Roberts away after he sent a long email they considered disturbing and threatening. Their court documents alleged he “accosted” Cook, 87, in his driveway Sept. 17 and he was engaging in “increasingly adamant, bizarre behavior.”

Roberts has said he believes others involved in the search stole gold from Black Mesa and that his falling out with the search team came after he tried to warn the Cooks.

He says he wrote the email that led to the restraining order, which he acknowledges was “intense” but not intended as threatening, after he drove from Wyoming to Española following a phone conversation with Cook about returning to the mesa. But he was barred from the site once he got to Española.

Roberts maintains he financed the gold search. If successful, any find would be divided between Cook and the searchers, Roberts has said previously.

Thursday, Roberts told the Journal he agreed to settle the dispute under terms of a court order filed in state District Court this week “in the spirit of really trying to work something out” with the Cooks.

District Judge Raymond Ortiz’s order says Roberts can meet with Cook only for business purposes and only in the company of others, including Cook’s daughter, attorney Kate Fishman. Any meeting has to be pre-arranged at Española Transit Mix, a Cook company.

Also, Roberts can correspond with the Cooks only by U.S. mail through their attorney and can have no direct email or phone contact with the Cooks other than calls to Española Transit Mix to set up an appointment.

Roberts can’t directly contact Cook himself and “agrees not to attempt to contact Mr. Cook by driving by or stopping at Mr. Cook’s businesses other than Española Transit Mix during regular business hours,” the order states.

Roberts said Thursday he hopes to meet with Cook next week.

Roberts has said previously he wants to finish an excavation that was started on Black Mesa and needs just two days to do so.

Buried treasure?

Roberts says the Black Mesa search was in part for possible treasure buried by the Knights of the Golden Circle, a pro-slavery, pro-Confederacy group organized in the South in the mid-19th century, who some believe buried caches of gold and silver, including in the Southwest. Internet sites discuss the buried caches or vaults and how to interpret maps alleged to show where the treasure sites are.

John Melacnon, who the Cooks’ court filings say was contracted to perform a “non-destructive geophysical survey on Black Mesa,” is identified on one website he appears to be associated with as the world’s “foremost authority on Spanish and Knights of the Golden Circle Society treasure maps, symbols and signs.” The Journal ‘s efforts to contact Melancon have been unsuccessful.

Roberts said there also is a story of a mule pack train loaded with gold that was lost near Velarde in the late 1800s.