Federal judge refuses jail time for convicted "pothunter"

The wide ranging and controversial artifact theft case from the Four Corners area is in the news again.

One problem with these cases is that federal judges rarely sentence convicted offenders to actual jail time, and it’s happened again.

The news reports that a Utah man who bragged about stealing American Indian artifacts from federal lands avoided jail time Thursday after a federal judge decided to show leniency after reading letters from the man’s daughters.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said he planned to give Aubry Patterson, 57, prison time but changed his mind after reading the letters, which said Patterson was an “amazing father” who had a hard life but always “provided for us and put food on the table.” Patterson’s teary daughters accompanied him to court.

Judge Benson instead gave Patterson three years of probation, waiving federal guidelines that called for more than a year in prison.

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