SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Bureau of Land Management agent Daniel Love — no stranger to allegations of nefarious behavior against him — took valuable stones held as evidence and distributed them "like candy" to his co-workers and a contractor, federal investigators said in a report released Thursday.
In the spring of 2016, Love told a worker to take seized stones known as moqui marbles out of an evidence room so he could give them to a contractor who had performed work on the Salt Lake City facility, the report said.
The rocks are unique geological formations of iron oxide that form in sedimentary rock. The agency seized thousands of them during an investigation into whether they were unlawfully collected from a national park. A professor estimated they’d be worth between $160,000 and $520,000. (For more information on the Love case and other Salt Lake City stories, subscribe to Patch to receive daily newsletters and breaking news alerts. If you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)
The rocks were stored in dozens of 5-gallon buckets, and Love told an employee to get him four of the best rocks for gifts. The worker told investigators he had "bad feeling" about taking them from the evidence room, but followed instructions because Love was a law enforcement officer and "scary." The contractor later returned the marbles.
Several other employees also had the stones, and one told investigators that Love was "giving them out like candy."
Love was sued over the artifacts raid by family of a doctor, James Redd, who killed himself after he was arrested. That case was later dismissed.
Department of Interior investigators also said Love told a worker to scrub emails requested by then-U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who confirmed the request was directed toward Love. Love told an employee to search his email for anything that might be inappropriate or demeaning, and delete them or flag those emails so Love could review them.
During the investigation, Love refused to turn over his government-issued laptops and said they’d been lost — something he previously told colleagues that he planned to do if he ever got in trouble. He declined to be interviewed by investigators.
Love oversaw the 2014 standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. He was previously faulted for influencing a job search for a friend, and for using his influence to get tickets to a sold-out Burning Man event for which he was helping oversee security.
Federal prosecutors decided against filing criminal charges in the evidence mishandling case, and the BLM said Thursday he’s still employed. The agency declined to elaborate.
A lawyer for Love, Lisa Kleine, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A publicly listed number for Love has been disconnected.
By LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press
Photo credit: Jerry McBride/The Durango Herald via AP