OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A parolee was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing a 19th-century Gold Rush-era jewelry box from a California museum.
Andre Taray Franklin was sentenced Tuesday for knowingly receiving and then selling the gold-encrusted box that was stolen early last year from the Oakland Museum of California, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said.
Franklin, 46, pleaded guilty to stealing the jewelry box valued at more than $800,000 in January 2013. It was recovered two months later during the investigation and Franklin was indicted by a federal grand jury.
He entered his plea in March to theft of major artwork and unlawful concealment and disposition of stolen major artwork.
“This prosecution, conviction, and sentence send a strong message that the U.S. attorney’s office values greatly, and will fight to protect, the museums and cultural institutions in Oakland and the Bay Area that maintain and display historic items for the public to enjoy,” Haag said.
The box depicts images of early California history and was originally a wedding anniversary gift from a San Francisco pioneer to his wife in the 1800s. After an exhaustive search, Oakland police eventually recovered the box that Franklin had sold for $1,500.
Franklin became a suspect after the incident was captured on a surveillance system and authorities matched his DNA that was already on file to an ax he apparently used to smash glass cases at the museum, prosecutors said.
His sneakers also matched footprints found outside the museum, they said. Franklin had nearly a dozen prior felony convictions that included petty theft and unlawful sexual intercourse, authorities said.
It also was not the first time the popular jewelry box, which has been associated with the museum since the 1960s, was stolen. It was taken in 1978 and recovered several years later at an auction house.