Dealer in artifacts probe hits pay dirt
A dealer of archeological artifacts working hand-in-glove with federal law enforcement was paid more than $162,000 for his services over 31 months ending last July, according to court records recently made public.
A man was referred to in filings as “the source.” His cooperation with the FBI and investigators with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management helped secure criminal charges against 26 people in a multistate investigation of stolen relics from federal lands.
“The source” stands to earn more money, court records show.
He has since gained employment outside of his informant work, but he has agreed to testify if called in any of the ongoing court cases related to the investigation.
” ... He will be paid as a normal witness for those appearances,” federal prosecutors wrote in a filing. “There are no charges pending against this individual in state or federal court, and there never were as a result of this investigation.”
Since his last payment of $3,500 on July 2, 2009, the source received “small additional payments” from the FBI and BLM, prosecutors wrote.
Court records say neither the informant nor his friends and family were given any other forms of consideration for his work.
Prosecutors in January revealed details of the government’s agreement with the informant after an attorney representing Robert Knowlton of Orchard Mesa appealed for the release of the information to U.S. District Judge Philip Brimmer in Denver. Knowlton has pleaded not guilty to charges that he sold three stolen artifacts to the informant in July 2008. The informant recorded a conversation in July 2008, when Knowlton, court records allege, acknowledged the items had been illegally removed from federal lands.
The items, a pipe, knife and knife point, were mailed by Knowlton from Colorado to the informant in Utah, who gave the package to the FBI.
The informant entered into a contract for services with the FBI in December 2006 and went on to record some 132 telephonic and in-person conversations.
Prosecutors acknowledged their informant in November 2008 was “not immediately forthcoming” about the misuse of funds provided by the FBI for the lease of a car, which instead were used for unspecified personal expenses.
“The Source denied the misuse, but quickly admitted the mistake and has made arrangements for payments to the leasing company,” officers wrote in a search warrant affidavit.