The informant who was instrumental in the federal antiquities investigation in the Southwest has committed suicide. This comes after two others accused of wrongdoing killed themselves.
From the AP:
The undercover operative who helped federal officials build a case against more than two dozen people for allegedly looting American Indian artifacts in the Southwest has apparently committed suicide.
Two defendants in the case killed themselves last year.
Police say 52-year-old Ted Dan Gardiner shot himself Monday at a home in a Salt Lake City suburb. He shares the name, date of birth and address of the man identified in court documents as the informant in the case that led to indictments against 26 people.
Gardiner worked with the FBI and the Bureau of Land Management for more than two years, coordinating deals with artifacts collectors, dealers and diggers in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
Gardiner’s father and his son told The Associated Press on Tuesday that they could not explain his death. The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Salt Lake City declined comment.
Two defendants — a Santa Fe, N.M., salesman and a prominent Blanding, Utah, physician, James Redd — committed suicide after their arrests in June.
Gardiner, an antiquities dealer, offered in 2006 to help federal authorities set up what turned into a long-running sting operation in the black-market trade in prehistoric relics. Court papers say he was typically paid $7,500 a month for secretly recording transactions across the Southwest for more than two years.
He was still being paid for helping agents prepare for court cases, and he was to receive more money if he had testified. Gardiner had received $162,000 in payments plus expenses, for a total of $224,000, when most of the arrests were made in June.
Federal authorities and Gardiner, who also ran an [artifact] authentication business, have insisted he was never in trouble with the law.
Unified Police Sgt. Don Hutson says a preliminary autopsy shows Gardiner’s gunshot wound was probably self-inflicted. An officer fired a round during a standoff Monday night, but it didn’t hit Gardiner.
Deputies were called to Gardiner’s home Saturday night on a report that he was suicidal, Hutson said. Gardiner was transported for mental health treatment and his gun was taken away. Gardiner used another gun Monday night.
Gardiner’s father, Dan Gardiner, declined further comment Tuesday, handing over the phone to one of Ted Gardiner’s sons, who said, “We don’t know any more than you.” The son declined to give his name.