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A plea deal is in the works for a defendant in the 2009 Four Corners artifacts-trafficking case who has been fighting the charges for months, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

David A. Lacy — a Blanding resident and high-school teacher — had been scheduled to go to trial July 11. But during a pre-trial conference on Thursday, Lacy and prosecutors moved closer to reaching a plea agreement, said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

A date to finalize the agreement has not been set, but work on the agreement will continue, Rydalch said.

Lacy was among two dozen people, many from San Juan County, charged with stealing ancient American-Indian artifacts from public lands. They were targeted during a federal sting operation that employed a former artifacts dealer as an operative.

Most of the defendants have pleaded guilty and received probation. The operative and two of those indicted have committed suicide.

Last week, defendant Kevin Shumway pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in connection with artifacts trafficking during a hearing in Moab before U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba. Shumway faces up to a year in prison on each charge when he is sentenced Sept. 1.

Another defendant, Sharon Evette Shumway on Friday received a diversion as her sentence, meaning her charges will be held for one year and dismissed if she does not have any subsequent violations.

Lacy had been fighting against charges, alleging law enforcement violated his civil rights.

During a February 2010 court hearing, Lacy, now 57, testified that the agents failed to properly inform him of his civil rights. But BLM agent Scott Kotlowski said he read Lacy his Miranda rights from a printed card when he and BLM Chief Ranger Jason Caffey — along with several other armed agents — surrounded and entered Lacy's home to serve a search warrant.

After speaking with officers for a few hours in the home, Lacy was arrested on seven felony and two misdemeanor charges.

Caffey testified during the February hearing that Lacy was cooperative, saying "he would tell us anything we wanted to know."

After hearing arguments from Lacy's attorneys claiming that Lacy's conversation with officers should be banned from the trial, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart ruled in favor of the two U.S. Bureau of Land Management law-enforcement officers who interviewed him.

mrogers@sltrib.com Twitter: @mrogers_trib

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