SALT LAKE CITY, May 4 (UPI) -- Five defendants charged with illegal trafficking in American Indian artifacts are to be tried in Salt Lake City in October, a federal judge has ruled.
The five were among 26 defendants charged after a 2 1/2-year federal investigation in the Four Corners region that ended last June, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday.
Joseph Smith, Meredith Smith, Tad Kreth, Reece Laws and Brandon Laws are to be tried beginning Oct. 25, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart ruled Monday.
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 fatally shot himself March 1 in his Salt Lake County home.
Seven other defendants have pleaded guilty, two committed suicide in June after the charges were announced, and the rest have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.