Ex-curator guilty in million-dollar coins theft

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 12, 2012 6:53 PM
Ex-curator guilty in million-dollar coins theft

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former curator has pleaded guilty to embezzling almost $1 million in rare coins from a Colorado museum and selling them at auctions, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Wyatt Yeager, 33, of California, stole the coins from the American Numismatic Association's Money Museum in Colorado Springs when he worked there in 2007, Charles Oberly, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, said in a statement.

Yeager embezzled $492,205 in rare coins and sold them at several auctions in 2007, including in St. Louis, Baltimore and Melbourne, Australia, the statement said.

One of the coins sold at the Australian auction was the extremely rare 1813 "Holey" dollar, which fetched $155,755.

Yeager also admitted to embezzling another $492,355 in rare coins and selling them at an auction in Germany in 2008, according to the plea agreement.

Yeager has pleaded guilty to one count of theft of major artwork. He faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release after prison, restitution, forfeiture and a $100,000 special assessment.

Some of the hundreds of the stolen coins have been recovered, some are still missing and the whereabouts of some are known, the Money Museum said in a statement.

The case was prosecuted by David Hall, an assistant U.S. attorney in Delaware with wide experience in crimes involving art and cultural property.

(Reporting By Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Daniel Trotta)