Friday, 5 March 2010

Judge delays man's artefacts looting trial

Prosecutors have delayed the trial in Denver of one of 26 defendants in the largest American Indian artifacts looting case. Robert B. Knowlton, a former used-car salesman of Grand Junction, faces five counts of taking and selling American Indian artifacts from public lands. He has pleaded not guilty. In a Wednesday hearing, Judge Phillip Brimmer delayed the March 29 trial date until July 6. The case has been affected by the apparent suicide Monday of Ted Dan Gardiner, the government informant who gthered information during more than two years of undercover work. (Paul Foy 'Judge delays man's artifacts looting trial', The Durango Herald Friday, March 05, 2010). According to a search warrant affidavit by Special Agent David Moore of the Bureau of Land Management, Gardiner videotaped himself buying artifacts from Knowlton and discussing artifacts that Knowlton had obtained from Utah, plus sites near Dove Creek and Telluride in Colorado. Gardiner's death has however thrown the case into disarray said Mark Moffat, the defense attorney who represents two of the Utah defendants. Federal prosecutors in Colorado and Utah are discussing what to do next, “The government is in the process of analyzing in total (its case)", said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Denver. A status hearing for lawyers is set for Monday in Utah, where most of the cases are being prosecuted and where the investigation originated

KJZZ radio: Steve Goldstein - Here and Now: Artifacts Case Suicide Your browser does not have Flash installed. Please click here to use another player.
( Phoenix, AZ ) Here and Now talked to Salt Lake City AP reporter Paul Foy about the latest developments in the nation's largest investigation into the looting and selling of native artifacts. The government's key witness committed suicide March 1st. Host Steve Goldstein also spoke with former Arizona U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton about the impact such an event can have on a case.

[Mention here is made of the Tidwell case. Rodney Tidwell, a low-level dealer in Arizona, was convicted for selling a set of Acoma priest robes and Hopi masks. His alleged partner, a Native American man who was also indicted, committed suicide before the trial. Tidwell argued that he could not know the items were protected, because the tribes provide no written record of what constitutes cultural patrimony. The Tidwell court pointed out that the dealer had enough expertise to recognize the cultural significance of a work of Native American art and to know that he was acting illegally. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison.]

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