3 in artifacts case plead guilty

30 Apr 2011 1:09 PM | Anonymous

3 in artifacts case plead guilty

Published: Friday, April 29, 2011 3:12 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY undefined Three people arrested as part of the largest crackdown on Native American artifacts trafficking entered guilty pleas Friday in federal court.

Joseph M. Smith and his wife, Meredith Smith, Tad C. Kreth and Reese G. Laws were preparing to go trial in May after prosecutors turned up the heat on them with an amended indictment alleging 38 felony counts of trafficking in archaeological resources, theft of tribal and government property and conspiracy. They originally faced a total of 27 counts.

Joseph Smith's attorney, Ben Hamilton, believed the government overvalued the allegedly stolen artifacts in order to pile additional felony charges on the four. Smith faced all 38 counts because the sales of the items to an undercover informant took place in his Blanding home.

"We believe they inflated the value on every item except for one," Hamilton said.

That one undefined a turquoise pendant undefined led Joseph Smith, 33, to plead guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of trafficking in stolen artifacts. Prosecutors agreed to drop the other counts. Smith also must forfeit any Native American artifacts he has in his possession.

"I believe it's a fair resolution," Hamilton said.



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