Suicide causes delay in stolen artifacts trial

A federal judge Wednesday delayed a trial of a local man facing charges in a multistate, artifacts-theft case as prosecutors decide how, or if, they will move forward after the apparent suicide of a government informant.

“The government has asked for the additional time to analyze its case in total,” said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

Robert Knowlton, 66, of Orchard Mesa, is now scheduled for trial starting July 6 before U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer. Knowlton’s case was scheduled to go before a jury later this month in Denver.

Ted Gardiner, 52, an artifacts dealer who worked undercover more than two years helping law enforcement build cases against 26 people, was found dead Monday from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at a home just outside Salt Lake City.

David Gaouette, U.S. Attorney for Colorado, told the Associated Press he’s reviewing ways to use videotape evidence without the live testimony of Gardiner, who secretly recorded hundreds of hours of sales during the investigation.

Knowlton was indicted last year on allegations that he sold three items, all artifacts that prosecutors allege were obtained illegally from federal lands, in July 2008 and then mailed the items across state lines to Gardiner in Utah. Gardiner turned over the package to the FBI in Salt Lake City.

Knowlton is the only person among the 26 individuals charged in the artifacts investigation to have a trial scheduled. Two others committed suicide last year.


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