Junction man pleads not guilty in looting probe

An Orchard Mesa man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he illegally sold and transported archeological artifacts that were stolen from federal lands.

Robert B. Knowlton, 66, 1602 Dolores St., entered the pleas Wednesday in Denver federal court.

According to court records, Knowlton’s new attorney, Bill Richardson of Grand Junction, formally entered his appearance in the case during a two-minute hearing. Prosecutors gave Knowlton’s attorney a box and files of evidence.

Knowlton was indicted Aug. 25 by a federal grand jury on felony counts of selling an archeological resource and interstate transportation of stolen property.

Knowlton, a Fort Collins resident at the time of the suspected crimes, sold a pipe, knife and knife point that were stolen from federal lands in Colorado and Utah, according to court records.

He allegedly mailed the items in July 2008 in a package sent from Colorado to an undercover informant in Utah working for the FBI.

Knowlton ran an Internet-based business called Bob’s Flint Shop. An affidavit says he told an undercover informant that his collection included about 3,700 artifacts with a retail value of a half-million dollars.

Knowlton’s home in Grand Junction was raided by federal authorities in June, five days after he bought the property and moved in. He is one of 26 people — two have committed suicide — who have been charged after a two-year investigation of the thefts of relics from federal lands across the Southwest.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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