updated 10/22/2008 6:29:08 PM ET 2008-10-22T22:29:08

A judge on Wednesday sentenced a man who knew his cousin had deadly ricin and lied to authorities about it to two years probation and ordered him to pay a $500 fine.

Thomas Tholen, 54, pleaded guilty Aug. 11 to failing to report a crime.

Vials containing ricin were found in his cousin Roger Bergendorff's Las Vegas motel room in February. Bergendorff, 57, pleaded guilty Aug. 4 to possessing the toxin and is expected to be sentenced Nov. 3 to three years and a month in federal prison.

Police and prosecutors have cast Bergendorff as a troubled man who made the ricin on his own years ago, and they have said the case was not linked to terrorism.

Bergendorff lived at Tholen's house in the Salt Lake City suburb of Riverton in 2005-06.

Prosecutor John Huber had recommended three years of probation in exchange for Tholen's cooperation. He said Tholen actively concealed the existence of the ricin in interviews with Las Vegas police and the FBI.

"When you throw the FBI off the trail in the search for some of the most deadly stuff on earth, that's a problem," Huber said Wednesday.

Tholen declined to comment to reporters. His attorney, Rebecca Hyde, said that Tholen was simply trying to help a family member who was down on his luck and never anticipated he would end up in court.

The 54-year-old freelance artist, who creates characters for video games, admitted in August that he lied when he told authorities Bergendorff never mentioned anything about ricin. He said he lied to Las Vegas police and FBI agents because he was scared.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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