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Crime & Litigation



Military medals stolen from home of WWII veteran

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Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:29

The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest United States Armed Forces' individual military award. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Albuquerque police are asking the public to keep an eye out for military medals stolen from an 89-year-old World War II veteran.

The framed service medals were among items taken from Roy Hopper's home during a break-in last month. At the time, Hopper was in the hospital after falling and breaking his hip.

Hopper's name is inscribed on the back of the medals. Police say they could turn up on Craigslist or at pawn shops.

“He is totally devastated. His morale is very low,” said Lewis Wasson, one of Hopper's friends.

Hopper has been honored by former first lady Laura Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. But his friends say his most treasured honor came in 1991 when he was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic efforts during World War II.

Hopper participated in the Normandy Invasion before being captured by the Germans. He spent nine months in a camp for prisoners of war.

Investigators searched Hopper's home for evidence but didn't find any fingerprints, police officer Simon Drobik said. Investigators believe the suspect was wearing gloves.

Guns and cash were also missing from Hopper's home.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-27-14 1940GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth-highest United States Armed Forces' individual military award. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:34
 

Chinese antiques dealer sentenced for smuggling rhino horns

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Written by SAMANTHA HENRY, Associated Press   
Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:10

Black rhinos in Tanzania. Image by Brocken Inaglory. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – An antiques dealer from China has been sentenced to nearly six years in U.S. federal prison after admitting he was the mastermind of an international smuggling ring that specialized in rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory.

Speaking through an interpreter, Zhifei Li expressed remorse for his actions and asked to be reunited with his sick 4-year-old daughter in China before his sentencing Tuesday in U.S. District court in Newark.

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty in December to 11 counts, including conspiracy, smuggling, illegal wildlife trafficking and making fake documents.

The U.S. attorney's office says Li, operating through his business Overseas Treasure Finding, paid three antiques dealers in the United States to help him smuggle the items to China. Prosecutors say the 30 smuggled rhino horns plus other objects made from the horns and from elephant ivory were worth about $4.5 million.

The horns were allegedly shipped to Hong Kong and then mainland China wrapped in duct tape and hidden in porcelain vases. All species of the rhinoceros are protected under U.S. and international law, and international trade in rhino horns and elephant ivory has been regulated since the mid-1970s.

U.S. Magistrate Esther Salas ordered Li to serve his sentence of five years and 10 months in the U.S. before he faces deportation to his native Shandong Province. He was also ordered to forfeit $3.5 million in proceeds from his admitted criminal activity.

Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for the district of New Jersey, praised what he said was one of the longest sentences ever imposed in the U.S. for a wildlife smuggling offense.

“The multibillion-dollar illegal wildlife market is supplied by animal poaching of unthinkable brutality and fed by those willing to profit from such cruelty,” Fishman said in a statement.

Salas said she hoped the sentencing would send a strong message to would-be poachers and smugglers in order to “prevent the innocent slaughter of these magnificent creatures.”

Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash,” a nationwide effort led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Justice Department to prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-27-14 2247GMT



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE

Black rhinos in Tanzania. Image by Brocken Inaglory. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 09:29
 

FBI: Confirmed sightings of missing art from Gardner heist

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 23 May 2014 10:11
Edouard Manet's 'Chez Tortoni,' one of the paintings stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. BOSTON (AP) - The FBI agent in charge of the investigation into the theft of $500 million worth of masterpieces from a Boston museum nearly a quarter century ago says the bureau has confirmed sightings of the missing artwork from credible sources.

The art, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Manet, was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 by two men disguised as city police officers.

FBI Special Agent Geoff Kelly, the lead investigator, tells WFXT-TV the trail for the missing artwork has not grown cold.

He identified three persons of interest in the Gardner case, all with ties to organized crime: Carmello Merlino, Robert Guarente, and Robert Gentile. Merlino and Guarente have died. Gentile has denied any knowledge of the missing work.

A $5 million reward has been offered.

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Information from: WFXT-TV, http://www.myfoxboston.com

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Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Edouard Manet's 'Chez Tortoni,' one of the paintings stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 10:22
 

Two arrested in theft of antique cars believed sold for scrap

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 23 May 2014 09:12
Suspects Douglas Gabel (left) and John Kasper (right). Photo courtesy of Saline County Sheriff's Office

SALINA, Kans. (AP) — Saline County Sheriff Glen Kochanowski says two men are in custody in connection with the theft and destruction of five antique cars.

Kochanowski says Gary Hansen discovered in early April that five of the antique cars he kept in a rural area of the county were missing.

KAKE TV reports that a 53-year-old Herington man, Douglas Gabel; and a 47-year-old man from Hope, John Kasper; were arrested in the case Wednesday and are being held in the Saline County Jail. Gabel faces 10 charges of felony theft and criminal damage to property. Kasper is charged with three counts of theft and three counts of criminal damage to property. Sheriff Kochanowski says more arrests are possible.

Kochanowski says it’s likely the cars were sold for scrap. The missing cars include a 1939 Plymouth, a 1949 Studebaker two-door coupe and a 1950 Studebaker four-door.

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Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Auction Central News and KAKE TV (www.kake.com) contributed to this report.



ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
Suspects Douglas Gabel (left) and John Kasper (right). Photo courtesy of Saline County Sheriff's Office
Last Updated on Friday, 23 May 2014 09:26
 

Miami pastor gets jail time in fake Damien Hirst art case

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Written by JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press   
Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:11
NEW YORK (AP) – A Miami pastor was sentenced Monday to six months in jail for peddling bogus examples of some of British artist Damien Hirst's signature paintings.

Kevin Sutherland had faced a possible seven years in prison in the attempted grand larceny case, which accused him of knowingly trying to sell five fake Hirsts for $185,000 to an undercover detective. Sutherland, who plans to appeal, said he was just an art-world tyro who got confusing signals about the pieces' authenticity.

Sutherland, 46, leads the small, nondenominational Mosaic Miami Church in Miami. Defense lawyer Sanford “Sam” Talkin emphasized Sutherland's good works to the judge, and Mosaic Miami members and others wrote letters on his behalf.

Sutherland was convicted last month of agreeing to sell paintings and prints mimicking Hirst's pharmaceutical-themed “`spot” paintings and round “spin” paintings, two of the artist's best-known themes.

Part of a group dubbed the Young British Artists in the 1990s, Hirst received Great Britain's prestigious Turner Prize in 1995.

The Manhattan district attorney's office noted that Sotheby's auction house had raised red flags about the authenticity of one of the paintings, but Sutherland nonetheless told the detective he didn't know of any doubts about them.

But Sutherland said the auction house never clearly told him the artworks were counterfeit. He said he believed their authenticity was guaranteed when he bought them from Vincent Lopreto, an admitted California art scammer who testified against him.

Lopreto pleaded guilty this year to identity theft and other charges. Two other men also admitted guilt in phony-Hirst cases brought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

“Because the art industry is largely unregulated, it is particularly important to hold accountable those who fraudulently deal artwork,” Vance said after Sutherland's conviction.

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Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter (at) jennpeltz.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-05-19-14 2213GMT

 

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 May 2014 10:15
 
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