Message #65
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 

Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998
Subject: Tidwell Gets Six Months In Prison

[ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] :

NM INDIAN ARTIFACTS TRAFFICKER SENTENCED
02/13/98  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ A former art dealer was
sentenced to six months in jail in connection with his
stealing and trying to sell American Indian religious
items. U.S. District Judge C. LeRoy Hansen sent Rodney
Phillip Tidwell, 55, of Payson, Ariz., to prison Thursday
for violating his probation in a 1995 artifacts case.
Tidwell had been convicted of a misdemeanor in Hansen's
court for trafficking in Zuni and Hopi masks. He violated
his probation in that case when he was convicted in
December on 26 separate counts for selling Hopi masks and
historical robes, vestments and liturgical items. Tidwell
told an undercover agent that the robes belonged to Roman
Catholic priests killed at Acoma Pueblo during the pueblo
revolt against the Spanish in 1680. The first conviction
was under the Native American Graves Protection and
Repatriation Act, a 1990 law aimed at halting the trade of
Indian ceremonial items. The second conviction, a felony
that carries the likelihood of federal prison time, came
during a jury trial in December in Arizona and was under
the Archaeological Resources Protection Act as well as the
graves protection act. The law makes it a crime to
transport for sale or profit an item of Native American
cultural patrimony, which is an object having ``ongoing
traditional, historical or cultural importance central to
the Native American group or culture, rather than property
owned by an individual.'' Critics say the definition is
too broad and too vague for people to know when they're
violating it. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhonda Backinoff,
who prosecuted the 1995 case, asked the court put
Tidwell in prison because of his repeated violations.
Tidwell's attorney, Dick Winterbottom of Albuquerque, asked
the court to let his client remain free pending sentencing
on the Arizona charges, especially in light of the fact
that Tidwell's wife is seriously ill and his 15-year-old
son is to have surgery in March. He noted that Tidwell had
paid the $10,000 fine and completed the 250 hours of
community service that were conditions of probation in the
1995 case. But Hansen said that while he had sympathy for
Tidwell's family, he had no sympathy for him. Hansen told
Tidwell he found it difficult to understand why "a man
of your maturity" with a great deal to lose would find
himself in the same situation a second time. Tidwell faces
sentencing March 16 in Phoenix for his 1997 conviction.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton in Arizona said
Thursday he will argue that the available penalty for
felony convictions is inadequate because it's pegged to
the dollar value of the artifacts, which he said may not
reflect the artifacts' value to the tribe.


[ NPS Morning Report - 2/18/98 Author:  Bill Halainen
at NP-DEWA Date: 2/18/98 10:17 AM ]: INCIDENTS 97-746 -
Southwest SO (NM) - Follow-up on ARPA/NAGPRA Prosecution
On February 12th, a New Mexico state judge ordered that
Rodney Tidwell, 55, of Payson, Arizona, be taken into
custody and immediately begin serving a six month prison
sentence for his probation violation from a 1995
misdemeanor NAGPRA conviction in New Mexico.  The latter
stemmed from a joint BLM-NPS ARPA task force investigation.
The prison sentence is believed to be the first in the
country for a NAGPRA violation, and came about due to
Tidwell's violation of his probation through continued
involvement with the sale of and trafficking in Hopi and
Acoma sacred and ceremonial objects.  Last December,
Tidwell was convicted on an additional 20 felony counts,
primarily ARPA and NAGPRA, which resulted from Operation
Breaklink, a BIA-lead operation which was conducted in
collaboration with the NPS.  He is scheduled to be
sentenced in Phoenix on the Arizona state counts during
the third week of March.  When sentencing Tidwell last
week, the judge said that he had sympathy for Tidwell's
friends and family, but none for Tidwell.  Tidwell has
now been convicted twice under ARPA, and is the first
person to be convicted twice under NAGPRA.  The U.S.
Attorney's Office in Arizona will be seeking an "upward
departure" from the sentencing guidelines because of
Tidwell's criminal history.  [Phil Young, SA, SWSO, 2/17]