Judge upholds Utah man’s charges in artifacts case

Salt Lake City, Utah April 2010

A federal judge has denied a request to dismiss 14 felony counts against a Utah man charged after a two-year federal investigation into illegal trafficking of American Indian artifacts.

Joseph M. Smith of Blanding pleaded not guilty last year to 28 counts related to the alleged theft and sale of jewelry, sandals and other ancient artifacts from public and tribal lands.

His federal defender in January asked that half the counts be dismissed, saying Smith was charged several times for the same alleged criminal conduct.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart denied the motion last week.

Smith was one of 26 people charged as part of the Four Corners investigation.