Blanding artifacts trafficker gets probation

19 Jul 2011 4:33 PM | Anonymous

Blanding artifacts trafficker gets probation
By Brandon Loomis

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: July 18, 2011 05:57PM
Updated: July 18, 2011 06:07PM
A key figure in a 2009 crackdown on illegal artifact trafficking in the Four Corners region received two years of probation Monday after pleading guilty to a felony.

Joseph M. Smith, 33, of Blanding, faced dozens of charges of trafficking in ancient American Indian artifacts taken from tribal or public lands, but ended up pleading guilty to one count.

His attorneys at first built a defense by arguing the items were worth less than $500 apiece undefined the threshold for felonies in federal antiquities law undefined but ultimately learned that he had received an offer beyond that for one item, a turquoise pendant.

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