Colorado artifacts dealer to take plea deal

Salt Lake City, Utah (AP) November 2010

A Southwest antiquities dealer who was forced to surrender five truckloads of American Indian relics is expected to settle charges of digging up a grave and plundering artifacts from federal lands.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Vern Crites is due to take a plea deal this week at federal court in Salt Lake City.

Crites’s attorney revealed in court papers months ago that a deal was in the works.

The 75-year-old dealer was described in government affidavits as a “price setter” for antiquities because of his influence over the market.

Federal agents say he had an astonishing collection confiscated from his Durango home in January.

Crites was charged in a government sting operation that spanned Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.