Another artifacts thief only gets probation

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that one of the key figures in the 2009 crackdown on illegal artifact trafficking in the Four Corners region received only two years of probation Monday after pleading guilty to a felony.

I have blogged several times that federal judges seem reticent to sentence artifacts thieves to any actual prison time.

The paper stated that Joseph M. Smith, 33, of Blanding, Utah, faced dozens of charges of trafficking in ancient American Indian artifacts that were stolen from tribal and public lands, but he only ended up pleading guilty to one count.

His attorneys tried to build a defense by arguing the stolen items were worth less than $500 apiece, which is the threshold for felonies in federal antiquities law.

Read more.

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