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Mother, daughter plead guilty in artifacts theft case

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Federal prosecutors Richard McKelvie, left, and Carlie Christensen answer questions Monday outside the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City about the artifact thefts.

Federal prosecutors Richard McKelvie, left, and Carlie Christensen answer questions Monday outside the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City about the artifact thefts.

Barton Glasser, Deseret News

The wife and daughter of a prominent Blanding doctor, who took his life last month amid federal charges of illegally dealing in American Indian artifacts, pleaded guilty Monday to similar charges filed against them.

Jeanne Redd, 59, was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court to strike a plea deal with federal prosecutors. But in a surprise development, Redd's daughter, Jerrica Redd, who had not been previously indicted, appeared in court to plead guilty after being charged by prosecutors last week. Jerrica Redd's case was unsealed Monday morning.

Jerrica Redd, 37, entered guilty pleas to one count each of theft of property from tribal lands, excavation of archeological artifacts and transportation of archeological artifacts. According to a plea statement, Redd admitted to traveling to the Hoskinnini area of the Navajo Indian Reservation in April 2008 and taking a "black on red" vessel, seed jar and vase. Two of the items were "substantially buried" and had to be excavated. She then admitted to taking the items to her home in Blanding, where she cleaned and repaired the items, and displayed them in her home. The items, according to court documents were each valued at over $1,000.

Soon after the daughter's plea, Jeanne Redd pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of government property, two counts of theft of tribal property and three counts of trafficking in stolen artifacts.

According to the mother's plea statement, Redd admitted to taking several items from locations on federal and tribal lands. Among the prehistoric relics were a ceramic mug, a hafted ax, an effigy bird pendant and gourd with necklace. She also admitted to selling four prehistoric sandals to a confidential informant, as well as trading a stone and a pottery pendant for a turquoise pendant with the informant.

Both mother and daughter are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16.

Outside of court, assistant U.S. attorney Carlie Christensen said she hoped the guilty pleas would send a message that there is a need to protect sacred artifacts on tribal lands. She also said the pleas should send a message to the other 21 remaining defendants that federal prosecutors are serious about the evidence in the case. "We feel that this is an important milestone in the case," Christensen said.

In exchange for their guilty pleas, federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend punishments at the lower end of the sentencing guidelines. Federal prosecutors refused to estimate on Monday just how much prison time, if any, the Redds face.

The cases are related to a massive federal sting operation in which 24 people were arrested in Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. The Redd family suffered a sudden loss when Dr. James Redd committed suicide after being indicted on charges of dealing in Indian artifacts. A second defendant from New Mexico, Steven L. Shrader, also committed suicide last month.

Court documents show federal agents seized several computers and journals from Jeanne Redd's home. Christensen said Jericca Redd was not considered a suspect until their investigation uncovered evidence last week. Jeanne Redd is also being investigated by federal agents for an apparent fraud scheme mentioned in journals hand-written by her and her husband. No charges have been filed in that investigation.

After the hearings, the Redds quickly ducked into a car without comment. Their attorneys also made no comment about the plea agreement.

E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com