Trial set in Four Corners artifact looting case

SALT LAKE CITY — An October trial has been scheduled for a group of Blanding residents accused in the black market trade of ancient American Indian artifacts taken from federal or tribal lands.

The five defendants are accused of being involved in the same sales of artifacts to a government operative.

U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba today set a two-week trial starting Oct. 25 for Joseph M. Smith and his wife, Meredith Smith, Tad Kreth, and brothers Brandon and Reece Laws.

The five defendants are among 26 people in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico charged after a two-year federal sting operation. Early on, two of the defendants committed suicide. Five others have pleaded guilty and surrendered or plan to surrender their collections. The remaining defendants are awaiting trial.


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