Man with missing wife indicted on stolen coins charge
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man who reported his new wife missing while sailing in the Caribbean this spring has been formally indicted on a charge related to thousands of dollars in stolen gold and silver coins.
Federal court records show Lewis Bennett was charged Tuesday with transporting stolen property. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Bennett abandoned his sinking 37-foot catamaran near the Bahamas in May. He told the Coast Guard he didn’t know where his wife, Isabella Hellman, was. Rescue crews found Bennett in a life raft.
A criminal complaint says 235 coins were four found among Bennett’s belongings. Authorities later learned that Bennett had been first mate on a ship last year, when 617 collectible coins were stolen. The ship’s owner identified Bennett’s coins as those stolen. The FBI says a June raid at Bennett’s Delray Beach condo turned up 162 more coins.
Bennett’s attorney didn’t immediately return a telephone message.