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Not guilty plea in artifacts theft case threat

Not guilty plea in artifacts theft case threat



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A man accused of threatening the federal government's chief witness in a massive artifacts theft case has pleaded not guilty.

Charles Armstrong appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday to answer to an indictment charging him with retaliating against a witness. During the brief appearance, he pleaded innocent to the charge.

A judge scheduled a Sept. 28 trial.

Armstrong, 44, is accused of threatening to harm the FBI's confidential source in the case that led to more than two dozen indictments and arrests of people suspected of trafficking in stolen relics from public and tribal lands in Utah's Four Corners area.

According to federal authorities, Armstrong threatened to tie the informant to a tree and beat him with a baseball bat.

The FBI has gone to some lengths to protect their informant, who wore a wire and recorded what federal prosecutors say was an illegal network of artifact thieves and dealers.

Two defendants, Jeanne Redd and her daughter, Jerrica, have struck plea deals with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah.

Jeanne Redd's husband, Dr. James Redd, committed suicide the day after being charged. Federal investigators have said Armstrong blamed the source for Redd's death.

Another defendant, Stephen Shrader, also killed himself.

E-mail: bwinslow@ksl.com

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Ben Winslow

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