Another sentenced in 4 Corners artifacts case
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man who once bragged about taking American Indian artifacts from federal lands avoided jail time Thursday after a federal judge said he decided to show leniency after reading letters from the man’s two daughters.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said he planned to give Aubry Patterson, 57, prison time but changed his mind after reading the letters, which said Patterson was an “amazing father” who had a hard life but always “provided for us and put food on the table.” Patterson’s teary daughters accompanied him to court.
Benson instead gave Patterson three years of probation, waiving guidelines that called for more than a year in prison.
Patterson apologized for digging up valuable relics on federal lands surrounding his property outside Monticello in southeast Utah, and he promised to never do it again.
“I would just like to say I’m sorry for the crime I committed and would not do it again,” Patterson said in federal court in Salt Lake City. “I apologize to the federal government and American Indian tribes.”
Patterson became the eighth defendant to receive leniency and avoid prison time after a sting operation rounded up 26 defendants last summer in Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.
Two of the defendants — one a Blanding, Utah, doctor and the other a Santa Fe, N.M., salesman — committed suicide in anguish over their arrests by federal agents. That leaves charges pending against 16 more defendants and an investigation that remains open in Arizona and New Mexico.