Undercover Operative in Four Corners Artifact Trafficking Bust Commits Suicide

Posted on March 8, 2010


Ted Gardiner, the FBI informant on a massive bust of traders in black market Native American artifacts, has committed suicide, making his the third suicide in the process of this investigation and prosecution.  His father and son cannot explain his choice, and the loss of this witness will surely make the prosecutions of the 115 felony charges against the 25 suspects from around the Southwest all the more difficult.

Apparently the prosecutors are “reassessing how to proceed without the live testimony of Gardiner,” meaning they are figuring out how they could get the audio and video recordings Gardiner made before his death admitted into evidence.  Such recordings are hearsay, and are generally inadmissible.  Exceptions to the prohibition on hearsay for deceased persons include former sworn testimony, statements under belief of impending death, statements against interest, statements of personal or family history, and then a catchall provision for really trustworthy hearsay.  Since the first four exceptions wouldn’t appear to apply for audio recordings made by an informant for the FBI, the prosecution will most likely have to try and admit the recordings through the catch-all, and will have a difficult time proving the “circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness” required.

To read an excellent article which gives insight into the mind and experience of Gardiner, working as an FBI undercover OP over the course of a year, read ‘The Source’: The Inside Story of the Key Player in the Feds’ Indian Artifacts Case, at the Salt Lake City Tribune.

From AP, check out Informants’ Death Throws Artifacts Case Into Doubt.

Hat tip to LCCHP for the first article.