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Guilty plea in Native American artifacts crackdown

Jeanne Redd was charged with stealing ancient artifacts from public land. Her husband was a Utah doctor who killed himself after his arrest on similar charges.

July 07, 2009|Nicholas Riccardi

DENVER — The wife of a southern Utah doctor who killed himself after his arrest on charges of stealing Native American artifacts from public lands pleaded guilty on Monday to similar charges.

As part of a plea agreement, Jeanne Redd, 59, pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft of government and tribal property and trafficking in stolen artifacts. Federal prosecutors agreed to seek a lesser penalty at her September sentencing than the maximum 10 years in prison provided for under the charges.

Redd and her husband, James, were among 24 charged last month as part of an alleged network of robbers of Native American graves. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the indictments in Salt Lake City. He touted them as part of an expanded effort to stamp out what is a controversial pastime in the ruins-rich deserts of the Four Corners states.

The Redds pleaded not guilty in court hours after their arrest June 10. The next day, James Redd, who for years was the only doctor in the small town of Blanding, Utah, killed himself. Another defendant, Steven Shrader of Santa Fe, N.M., killed himself in Illinois the following week.

Officials in Blanding blasted the early morning arrests of the Redds and other suspects, saying they were excessive given the nonviolent charges. Utah's two GOP senators have complained about the raids as well.

"We believe today's plea is an acknowledgment of the evidence in this case and the defendant's involvement in the conduct charged in the indictment," First Assistant U.S. Atty. Carlie Christensen said in a statement.

An attorney for Redd did not return a call for comment. Redd's daughter Jerrica, 37, who was charged Friday with theft of tribal property and transporting tribal property, also pleaded guilty.

Jeanne Redd and her husband had tangled with authorities before over charges of taking relics from public land. She pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of grave robbery in 1998 and paid a $10,000 settlement for allegedly digging up artifacts on state property. Authorities said the couple had so many artifacts in their home it took federal agents eight hours to catalog them.

Authorities worked with an antiquities dealer who secretly recorded his conversations with the Redds and other defendants. Court papers said Jeanne Redd showed off an ax, mug, pendant and other items, saying they were taken from either tribal or federal land. She also sold the dealer four sandals taken from federal land.

As part of the terms of the plea, Redd must return all artifacts in her possession as well as relinquish computers and a GPS device that authorities say she used to find them.

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nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com

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