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Charges filed in toppling of ancient Utah rock formation

Dave Hall via AP file

This frame grab from a video taken by Dave Hall shows a Boy Scouts leader looking over an ancient Utah desert rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park, which he later knocked down.

Two Utah scout leaders who video recorded themselves gleefully toppling a boulder from a Jurassic-era rock formation in a state park were formally charged Friday, according to park department officials. 

Highland residents Glenn Taylor, 45, and David Hall, 42, were accused of toppling a protected sandstone formation, also known as a hoodoo or goblin, at Goblin Valley State Park in October.

Dave Hall / AP

This frame grab from a video taken by Dave Hall shows two men cheering after a Boy Scouts leader knocked over an ancient Utah desert rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park.

Taylor was charged with one count of felony criminal mischief and Hall with one count of felony aiding and assisting in criminal mischief, park officials said. Both men could face penalties up to five years in prison, $5,000 in fines and restitution for damages to resources of the State of Utah.

Taylor and Hall told NBC News back in October that they acted with good intentions, pushing the massive rock before it could fall on its own and hurt someone, but later wished they had just alerted a ranger.

"We did something right the wrong way," Taylor said.

Taylor and Hall, who were on a trip with eight Boy Scouts, recorded the moment they dislodged the rock from the spot it had been perched for 170 million years.

The video brought a scolding from the Boy Scouts of America, which has a "Leave No Trace" policy for outdoors activities.

Taylor and Hall are scheduled for a first appearance before a judge on March 18.

"Mr. Taylor is a very good man. I will be representing him," Scott P. Card, Taylor's attorney, said in a statement Friday. "Although I believe that the charge against Mr. Taylor is excessive, I also understand the State's motive to deter others from similar conduct," he added.

Hall said he had no comment. 

NBC News' Tracy Connor contributed to this report. 

In Utah's Goblin Valley State Park, three men toppled a giant rock formation that's 170 million years old in just 14 seconds. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.

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