Minnesota man to pay $4,400 for defacing historic monument

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What may have seemed like a romantic gesture at the time will cost a Minnesota man $4,400.

Cole Randall carved both his name and his newlywed wife's name in the sandstone at Pompey's Pillar monument in Montana, so that it read "Cole + Shpresa 10/10/2013." What made the crime especially notable was that he carved the note about 3 feet from the signature of explorer William Clark, who had etched his own name into the rock 206 years earlier.

Clark’s July 25, 1806 inscription is the only physical evidence along the route that visibly remains of his famous westward expedition with Meriwether Lewis, according to the Bureau of Land Management. KRTV in Montana had photos of both the Clark inscription and Randall's graffiti.

The brazen act of vandalism enraged activists who have long sought to protect the monument. The rock has inspired generations of visitors for more than 100 years, according to the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the site.

"Mr. Randall’s blatant disregard for this national treasure is very disturbing," Jonathan Peart, executive director of the Friends of Pompeys Pillar, told the Star Tribune Monday.

Randall, 24, of Plymouth, has agreed to pay $1,000 in fines and $3,400 in restitution, the BLM says. But Randall's carving may be so deep that it may not be able to be fully restored, the Associated Press reports.

Randall accepted responsibility for the vandalism. He told the Star Tribune that he lost his good judgment in a moment of grief over a cancer scare after his wife found a lump in her breast. He told the newspaper that he was thinking then that "If something were to happen to my wife, I could come back to this place years from now and see her and my names together.”

Randall and his wife are the folk music duo Flora Cash. Their website says they have been living in Minneapolis.

CityPages in November published an apology letter by Randall.

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