$1,500 fine meted out in meteorite fraud case
The sale of a purported meteorite in a sting operation ended Friday with the seller getting a sentence of 500 hours of community service and $1,500 in fines.
Steven Curry, 59, who painted himself as a maverick in meteorite science who continues to believe he sold a genuine meteorite, vowed an appeal, even though his attorney departed the courtroom after telling Mesa County Judge Craig Henderson that Curry had fired him.
He had spoken with attorneys about representing him at appeal, Curry said later.
The Montrose man nodded frequently and murmured assent as Henderson admonished him for inappropriate reactions to those who disagreed with him.
Henderson rejected the idea of probation or anger-management classes for Curry, saying they would do no good, given Curry’s strong beliefs about meteorites.
The final word in the case was that of the jury, which looked at the evidence and found that “you stole, you defrauded,” Henderson told Curry.
The jury found Curry guilty on Oct. 18 of misdemeanor counts of theft, fraud in effecting sales and criminal simulation.
Henderson cited Curry’s lack of a criminal record in sentencing him to no jail time, but Henderson did suspend one-year jail sentences on each count, meaning Curry could end up behind bars should he fail to perform his community service or pay the fines. Henderson also awarded $786 in restitution to meteorite expert Blaine Reed, who bought the disputed meteorite from Curry at Main Street Mineral and Beads, 524 Main St. in Grand Junction.
Reed told Henderson his intent in working with law enforcement wasn’t to land Curry in jail, but to “get a point across” about the nature of meteorites and how they’re understood.
“Unfortunately, I’m a little concerned that leniency isn’t going to work,” Reed said.
Curry has been enjoined from selling meteorites under an order secured by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
Several character witnesses offered a defense of Curry, portraying him as a passionate, self-educated meteorite expert committed to shaking up the “meteorite community,” which profits from the belief that meteorites are rare and therefore valuable.
“I have done as much research in the meteorite cabal as I have into meteorites,” Curry told Henderson.
His hopes to put up a strong defense cratered when he was unable to put an expert — himself — on the witness stand, Curry said. He has 30 days to seek a stay in his sentence and begin his appeal.