Man Pleads Guilty To Transportation Of Stolen Indian Artifacts
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) _ A man was sentenced Monday to a suspended three-year prison term and placed on four years probation for unlawful transportation of North American Indian and West Indian artifacts he stole from museums.
George B. McLaughlin, 48, of North Oxford, Mass., also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton to continue mental health treatment as a condition of his probation.
Eginton fined McLaughlin $10,000 and ordered him to pay the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University and five other museums from which he stole artifacts $5,490 in restitution and a special $50 assessment.
McLaughlin’s attorney, M. Hatcher Norris, said his client was unemployed and spent most of his time studying American Indian artifacts.
As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, McLaughlin admitted to stealing 13 artifacts from the Peabody Museum.
McLaughlin also admitted to stealing thousands of artifacts in 1986 from five other New England museums: the Robbins Museum (formerly the Bronson Museum) in Attleboro, Mass.; the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, Mass.; the Robert S. Peabody Foundation at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.; the Springfield Science Museum in Springfield, Mass.; and the Worcester Historical Museum in Worcester, Mass.
The stolen artifacts, valued at approximately $820,000, were turned over to the FBI by McLaughlin or seized by the FBI during a raid at his parents’ home in Pittsburgh in February 1987, authorities said.
McLaughlin didn’t sell the artifacts but kept them himself, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter S. Jongbloed said.
He said McLaughlin cleaned and cataloged them, often removing museums’ catalog numbers and irreparably damaging many artifacts by destroying their identification and history.
McLaughlin pleaded guilty May 16 to unlawfully transporting artifacts he stole from the Peabody Museum on Nov. 25, 1986.
A tip from Peabody employees that artifacts were missing started federal authorities on the investigation that led to the discovery of the other thefts, Jongbloed said.
He said McLaughlin cooperated with the FBI in returning the artifacts to their owners.