Gardiner was at the center of the storm as the undercover buyer in the case, which resulted in felony charges against 24 people, many of them San Juan County residents. Over a two-year period, Gardiner paid more than $335,000 for scores of artifacts.
Gardiner was identified simply as “The Source” in the court documents outlining the indictments. The name of “The Source” was carefully protected from public identification for several months. However, it was well known by those involved in the cases and in local circles. Approximately five months after the arrests, Gardiner was eventually identified by statewide media.
Gardiner was a respected businessman, involved in managing Dan’s Food Stores, a family business. He also was previously a manager for a Market Street Grill. Reportedly, Gardiner also struggled at times with addictions to alcohol and drugs.
Court documents show that a number of defense attorneys planned to question the validity of the evidence collected by Gardiner and by his personal motivations. This increased the likelihood that the trials would be personally difficult for “The Source.”
In addition to providing Gardiner with more than $335,000 to purchase antiquities, federal authorities paid Gardiner up to $200,000 for his efforts.
Despite the payments, it was reported that Gardiner was a “voluntary” witness. The report was later clarified to say that Gardiner was a volunteer because he approached the federal agencies with the idea of pursuing the investigation.
It was reported that Gardiner was upset by the suicides of two men who were indicted as a result of the investigation. Dr. James Redd, of Blanding, took his own life on June 11, 2009, the day after approximately 150 federal agents made arrests in a high-profile raid centered in Blanding. A week later, defendant Steven Shrader, of Santa Fe, NM, was found dead in Illinois.
In addition, Charles Armstrong, of Blanding, was sentenced to one year in prison for making threats against Gardiner.
Gardiner took his own life on March 1. He was 52 years old.
Gardiner’s death raises questions about the majority of the cases involving the sale of antiquities. To date, only one case has been resolved in the investigation, resulting in guilty pleas, fines and probation for Blanding residents Jeanne Redd and Jericca Redd.