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Agoura Hills Antiquities Dealer Gets Home Detention, Fines for Illegally Dealing in Stolen Indian Artifacts PDF Print E-mail
Written by Fred Shuster, City News Service   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 01:39

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - An Agoura Hills antiquities dealer was sentenced Monday to one year of home detention and ordered to pay about $24,000 in penalties for illegally buying and selling American Indian artifacts, including stone tools and arrowheads that had been stolen from federal land.

Michael Glen Malter, 56, pleaded guilty last year to illegally trafficking in Native American archaeological resources. His home-based business, Malter Galleries Inc., was also a defendant in the case.

Malter was indicted in August 2009 on charges of illegally trafficking in 261 examples of Native American tools, beads, bone materials and other items taken from federal lands within Joshua Tree National Park, Channel Islands National Park and elsewhere. He was also charged with receiving and selling archaeological materials representing the pre-Hispanic cultures of El Salvador.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said Malter showed a "cavalier'' attitude toward the crime and was "clearly insensitive'' to the cultural heritage of Native Americans and others.

According to sentencing papers, Malter's late father was convicted a dozen years ago in federal court in Oklahoma of illegally trafficking in stolen Turkish antiquities. Father and son worked together at Malter Galleries when the business operated out of an Encino storefront.

Anderson made one of the conditions of Malter's probation that he must show documentation that any antiquities and ancient coins he intends to sell have not been illegally obtained.

Malter was sentenced to serve two years of probation, which includes the one year of home detention, and 150 hours of community service.

Malter and his company were also jointly ordered to pay an $8,000 fine and about $16,200 to the National Park Service and its archaeological investigations fund.

"There can be no excuse made for his knowing and intentional decisions to traffic in stolen Native American artifacts for personal profit,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph O. Johns wrote in court papers.

The prosecutor, who specializes in environmental crime, drew a distinction between Malter's offenses and the acts of grave robbers.

But, Johns wrote, "without unscrupulous individuals ... who are willing to traffic with the thieves of Native American archaeological sites, there would be virtually no incentive to loot such sites because there would be no market for such stolen antiquities.''

Malter's "fingernails may not be dirtied from the looting site, but his buttoned-down, white collar is so stained,'' Johns wrote.

In a brief statement to the court, Malter tearfully spoke of now having "a devastating felony on my once-perfect record.''

Last Updated on Friday, 23 March 2012 00:17