Monday 8 February 2010

Defense in artefacts case seeks informant's records

The defense attorney representing antiquity dealers Carl Lavern Crites and Marie Crites from Durango is now seeking an address book, recordings and other information in an attempt to challenge the integrity of an undercover operative key to a multistate investigation into illegal artifact trafficking. The couple are charged in connection with a June 2009 raid that federal agents coordinated across Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The search warrant affidavit accompanying the Crites indictment, which also included co-defendants Richard Bourret of Durango and Steven Shrader of Santa Fe, N.M., says the men took the operative when they went out into the desert to dig into an ancient Puebloan burial mound on public land on Sept. 14, 2008, in a search for collectable artefacts. Shrader shot himself to death in Illinois on June 18, but Crites and Bourret have been charged and are due to stand trial soon. On Aug. 19, the Criteses voluntarily surrendered an extensive collection of artefacts assembled over 50 years. Court papers said the collection includes prayer sticks, fire sticks, a bone scraper and "cloud blowers," the ceremonial pipes that Hopi and their ancestors used in prayer offerings. It reportedly took several moving trucks to hold the collection. Their defence attorney (Walter Bugden, a Salt Lake City lawyer),
seeks complete copies of any service agreements Gardiner entered with the FBI, Bureau of Land Management, the Internal Revenue Service or any other state or federal agency. He also wants information about any criminal activity involving Gardiner federal or state authorities were aware of regardless of whether there were prosecutions. Authorities are "presenting this person as just a good citizen. We're trying to find out if that's true," Bugden said. "Generally a cooperating witness has a strong incentive, motive or bias to become a cooperator. It generally doesn't happen as a moral revelation. It's more often based on self-interest." Gardiner declined to comment for this story.
In other words they are going to try and drag Mr Gardiner's name through the mud. Interesting isn't it that collectors are generally so full of talk of their "rights" to have assorted ancient artefacts in their possession, but when challenged rarely willing to face up to any responsibilities of demonstrating the legitimacy of their holdings that accompany those affirmed "rights" but instead so prone to drop to the level of personal attacks on their critics and accusers. It happens with UK metal detectors US ancient coin collectors, and now alleged pot-diggers. Mr Gardiner however was not the only person in the desert that night, team of U.S. Bureau of Land Management special agents was observing from nearby.

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