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New trial date set in Utah artifact thefts

Oct. 13, 2010 at 1:43 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Four Utah residents accused of trafficking in ancient Indian artifacts have had their trial rescheduled.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart Tuesday set a Feb. 8 trial for Joseph M. Smith, Meredith Smith, Reece Laws and Tad Kreth, all of Blanding, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

They face felony charges of violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and theft of artifacts from public or Indian tribal property.

The four are among 26 defendants indicted in 2009 after an undercover operative taped them in discussions about and sales of illegal artifacts from the Four Corners region. Some defendants have pleaded guilty and are on probation or awaiting sentencing, and two, James Redd and Steven Shrader, took their own lives after being indicted.

In an undercover operation, Ted Gardiner, a former antiquities dealer working for the FBI, spent more than $335,000 in government money to buy artifacts from numerous sellers, collectors and diggers, agents said. Gardiner shot himself to death March 1 in his Salt Lake County home.

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