Utah man says in court he sold stolen artifacts

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man acknowledged today that he took ancient bone and shell necklaces from federal land in southeastern Utah and sold them to a government informant.

Brandon Laws, 40, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City to a misdemeanor charge of trafficking in stolen artifacts.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped two felony charges that could have meant years of prison for the construction worker.

Laws told U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart he took the American Indian artifacts in March 2008 from the Figure 8 ruin in San Juan County.

The plea deal brings to nearly half the number of cases resolved from a two-year sting operation in the Four Corners region, prosecutors said. The sweep rounded up 26 people in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Two of them committed suicide after their arraignments.

Laws was expected to be released from federal custody today until his sentencing on Dec. 20.



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