Magistrate wants progress in artifacts cases

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A federal magistrate on Tuesday told attorneys to get busy reviewing the evidence in the cases alleging artifact thefts from public lands.

"You need to get with it," Magistrate Samuel Alba warned about a dozen defense lawyers in court representing 20 remaining defendants in the cases.

Alba scheduled a Nov. 23 conference with the attorneys to receive an update on their preparedness and perhaps schedule trial dates.

The attorneys earlier in Tuesday's hearing said they had not yet reviewed all the thousands of pages and reports and untold hours of audio and video recordings made by a confidential informant. Lawyer Scott Williamson, who is representing one of the defendants, explained to Alba that attorneys need to listen to all the recordings because the same informant appears on them throughout.

The defendants, most of whom are from Blanding or Monticello, are accused of removing American Indian artifacts from public land and offering to sell or trade them to an informant who was working for the FBI and Bureau of Land Management. Two people already have pleaded guilty and two others have committed suicide.