The gold bullion valued at $ 550,000 was stolen from a display case designed to allow visitors to carry it, but could not get it out.
BY GWEN FILOSA
After someone stole a 17th-century gold ingot from a Key West museum more than seven years ago, federal prosecutors have charged two men with taking the valuable artifact.
Richard Steven Johnson, 41, a resident of Rio Linda, California, and Jarred Alexander Goldman, 32, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States as well as theft of an important work of art.
The theft took place at around 5:15 pm on August 18, 18, 2010, and since then, the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, located at 200 Greene Street, is waiting to retrieve the stolen piece. However, the gold bullion has not recovered, prosecutors said on Monday.
In this case, the work of art, which prosecutors also describe as "an object of cultural heritage" is a gold bullion valued at $ 550,000. It was stolen from a showcase designed to allow visitors to carry it, but do not take it out from where it is.
According to the indictment, which was filed on January 23, but had remained sealed until Monday, Johnson stole the ingot while Goldman guarded the surroundings. The two men traveled from West Palm Beach to Key West for the purpose of committing the crime, and then returned, said Benjamin Greenberg, attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Police arrested Johnson Monday in California and planned to appear in court for the first time in Sacramento on Monday.
For his part, Goldman will appear for the first time before Judge Lurana S. Snow, in Key West, at 9:30 am on Tuesday.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison if the defendant is found guilty, while the charge of theft carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Federal laws describe as an object of cultural heritage any item or artifact that is more than 100 years old and worth more than $ 5,000.
The gold ingot was recovered in 1980 in the shipwreck of the Santa Margarita boat by treasure hunter Mel Fisher and his crew when they searched for the Margarita and Nuestra Señora de Atocha galleons.
The ingot had been on display in the museum for more than 20 years.
Courtesy: el Nuevo Herald