Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Man accused of harassing Cook says family hired him to find gold

By Tom Sharpe

The Santa Fe New Mexican

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
updated: 7:19 am, Wed Oct 2, 2013

"A man accused by Española businessman Richard Cook and his family of harassing them says he was hired to find gold buried on Black Mesa, but has been barred from the area since he discovered that some of the gold was missing.

Gale Roberts of Jackson Hole, Wyo., says he has no intention of threatening or harming the 87-year-old Cook or members of his family, as suggested in a request last week for a restraining order against Roberts by Cook, his daughter and his grandson.

“I am crazy — I’ll own up to that,” Roberts said in a telephone interview Monday. “But what I did for [the Cook family], they should have been grateful for.”
Roberts, a professional guide for horseback trips and fly fishing, said he was in Arizona, working with equipment that detects gold beneath the ground, when John Melancon and others hired him to find gold on the mesa north of Española.

Roberts said Melancon’s company had a contract with the Cook family company to look for gold on Black Mesa. Melancon, he added, has access to Knights of the Golden Crescent maps of treasures hidden by early Spanish explorers, as well as directions to gold cannonballs stashed atop Black Mesa after they were stolen from a pack train near Ojo Caliente in the 1800s.

Melancon did not return messages Monday. But his website describes him as a “world renown archaeologist that maintains a semiprivate museum in Cortez” and the “world’s foremost authority on Spanish and Knights of the Golden Circle Society treasure maps, symbols and signs.” The website features a photograph of gold bars and has numerous stories about hidden treasures, but makes no mention of Black Mesa or gold cannonballs stolen near Ojo Caliente.

Another website describes Melancon as the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cortez, Colo., but the current pastor of that church, Mike Schrag, said he has never heard of Melancon. Another website says Melancon “holds a doctoral degree (all but dissertation) from Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque” — which describes itself as “a regional center of Christian scholarship, drawing top scholars from across the nation and world for on-campus lectures and symposia.”

Roberts said that after negotiating with Melancon for a percentage of any gold he found, he began exploring the top of Black Mesa at his own expense, accessing the area through Cook’s property. But after finding that “something wasn’t right,” he drove to Texas to tell Melancon, who was hospitalized at the time.

In a subsequent email to Cook’s daughter that is part of the court record, Roberts indicates that the gold had been stolen, but he declined to confirm that in an interview.

Melancon “told me to sweep it under the rug,” Roberts said. Realizing “something was suspicious, Roberts said he “pounded” the Cooks with emails, but they “wouldn’t even discuss it” and now seem intent on making him look crazy, dragging out the case in court and denying he has a claim on the gold.
Roberts said he wants a “peaceful resolution with the Cooks.” He said that when he spoke to Cook outside his home in Española on Sept. 23, he told him, “I would never in a million years threaten you or cause harm to you.”

Another Black Mesa landowner, Andrew D. Alexander of Katy, Texas, wrote The New Mexican on Monday to say that Cook, who for decades has mined rock on the east side of the basaltic mesa near the confluence of the Rio Grande and Rio Chama, is denying access to hundreds of landowners on the mesa top, even though Rio Arriba County approved the Black Mesa Development subdivision there and appropriated money for a right of way and maintenance of a road."

Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or