As sentencing awaits the three Utah residents recently found guilty of looting artifacts from federal and tribal lands, let’s take a moment to review the sentencing in the infamous 2009 case of the Redds. Receiving probation of three- and two- years and a fine of $2,000 and $300 respectively, Jeanne and Jericca Redd joined a number of other defendants who receive a mere slap on the wrist for their contribution to the destruction of cultural heritage and human remains.
In response, SAFE sent a letter (see full text below) to Judge Waddoups expressing our disappointment that the sentencing guidelines were not appropriately followed. Most importantly, that “the leniency shown to the Redds sends the message that such laws are unimportant or do not apply to the Four Corners region, and will encourage rather than deter looters.” We did not receive a response from the Judge.
The San Juan Record reported in July 2010, that “the trend is toward no jail time” with probation, “home confinement” and supervised release being the norm. A year later, has anything changed?
“Illegal or not, Americans still clutch after the Southwest’s past by combing its canyons for ruins.” Brandon Loomis writes in the excellent but sobering piece this January in The Salt Lake Tribune:
“Let this case serve notice to anyone who is considering breaking these laws and trampling our nation’s cultural heritage,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said after the Blanding raid, “that the [Bureau of Land Management], the Department of Justice and the federal government will track you down and bring you to justice.”
We hope that the sentencing judges will finally take heed.
Federal Agents Bust Ring of Antiquity Thieves Looting American Indian Sites for Priceless Treasures June 10, 2009
Photo: Federal Agents Bust Ring of Antiquity Thieves Looting American Indian Sites for Priceless Treasures June 10, 2009
The press conference was held at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah. Behind Secretary Salazar are left to right, U.S. Attorney in Utah, Brett Tolman, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Larry Echo Hawk and Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden. [Photo Credit: Tami A. Heilemann DOI]
October 20, 2009
Hon. Clark Waddoups
United States District Court, District of Utah
Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse
350 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Re: United States of America vs. Jeanne H. Redd and James D. Redd [2:09-cr-00044]; and United States of America vs. Jericca Redd [2:09-cr-00467]
We hereby ask your permission to forward this letter to the news media and to post it on the SAFE Web site by Monday, October 26. Kindly provide us with your permission at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
We are writing with regard to the sentences you rendered in the above-mentioned federal cases, which resulted from long-term investigations into multiple violations of the 1979 Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), 16 U.S.C. § 470; the 1990 Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C. § 3001; and related legislation in the Four Corners region.
Professional archaeologists follow specific procedures in consultation with descendant communities and use scientific methods to retrieve maximum information to enhance our knowledge of the past. In contrast, the looting and trafficking of looted artifacts destroys archaeological evidence and imperils cultural heritage.
Moreover, in the ancient cultures of the Southwest, cultural objects were often buried with individuals as funerary items. Unsanctioned removal and acquisition of funerary items is nothing less than theft. It is disrespectful. For these reasons, the United States has enacted legislation to protect its cultural resources.
According to § 2B1.5 of the 2008 Federal Sentencing Guidelines (USSG § 2B1.5), sentencing levels increase accordingly when the theft, damage, or destruction involves:
• An offense exceeding $2,000 in value;
• Human remains, funerary objects, cultural patrimony, or designated archaeological material;
• A crime committed for pecuniary gain; and
• Defendants engaging in a pattern of misconduct involving cultural heritage resources.
The defendants in these two cases, Jeanne Redd and daughter Jericca Redd, were indicted on multiple federal charges involving artifacts with a combined value estimated at $6,000. Jeanne Redd had been charged by the State of Utah for similar activities in 1996. More than 800 artifacts, and some human remains, were seized from their home.
The potential penalties for these crimes would include fines of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison, according to the federal guidelines. The prosecution requested a sentence on the low end of the sentencing spectrum: 18–24 months imprisonment for Jeanne and Jericca Redd and a fine equal to the commercial value of all the artifacts, the archaeological costs for retrieving scientific information prior to the offense, and the cost for the restoration and repair of damages caused to cultural resources. Yet the court handed down an even more lenient sentence. Although the Redds entered a plea of guilty, they received no prison time and fines totaling $2,300. This is a slap on the wrist, considering the irreparable damage to heritage and history their crimes have caused.
We are disappointed that you did not follow the sentencing guidelines. The outcome shows disrespect for the federal agents and informants who put themselves at risk to make the case, and to the public, which paid for the prosecution. Most disturbingly, the leniency shown to the Redds sends the message that such laws are unimportant or do not apply to the Four Corners region, and will encourage rather than deter looters.
In addition, we believe that the dollar amount involved in an act of plunder should not be the sole, or even the primary, determinant of the seriousness of that act. In future sentencing, we urge you to also consider the cultural loss that the laws were designed to prevent, and recognize the importance of cultural heritage as something that goes beyond money.
We believe that the intentional violation of federal laws cannot be justified for certain communities or individuals. Even those who disagree with a particular aspect of the law must uphold it. If they do not, they should be held accountable for their actions. We respectfully request that the destructive activity of looting, trafficking, and collecting of cultural heritage property be addressed more appropriately and respectfully in future court decisions, particularly in cases resulting from this investigation.
President, SAFE/Saving Antiquities For Everyone
SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving cultural heritage worldwide. Our mission is to raise public awareness about the irreversible damage that results from looting, smuggling and trading illicit antiquities. We promote respect for the laws and treaties that enable nations to protect their cultural property and preserve humanity’s most precious non-renewable resource: the intact evidence of our undiscovered past. Learn more at www.savingantiquities.org.