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Man Must Return Ted Williams’ Rings

July 29, 1999 GMT

BOSTON (AP) _ A federal judge on Wednesday ordered that two championship rings which once belonged to Ted Williams be returned to the son of the baseball great.

Denying a motion seeking possession of the rings made by a man acquitted of extortion in connection with their sale, U.S. District Judge William Young ordered Wednesday that the rings be given to John-Henry Williams, according to Peter Sutton, a lawyer for the Williamses.

The FBI had been holding the rings until the ruling.

Last year, former Maine State Police trooper Rodney Nichols was found guilty of transporting property he knew to be stolen across state lines. He was accused of selling the rings to settle a New Hampshire gambling debt.

Prosecutors said John-Henry Williams stored the rings at the home of Nichols’ parents in Eliot, Maine, in 1991 and never came to retrieve them.

John-Henry Williams and Nichols had apparently been friends at the time, and the younger Williams stored the rings and other personal belongings at the house shortly after his graduation from the University of Maine. He said he would return for them in one month.

Frustrated that Williams’ possessions were taking up space, Nichols’ father told Williams he planned to sell them at a yard sale. While sorting through the items, he found the rings.

One ring honored the 1986 Boston Red Sox American League Championship. The other was a 1946 Red Sox commemorative American League championship ring.

Rodney Nichols said he told John-Henry Williams about the rings but Williams never asked for them back. He then offered the rings to a Portsmouth, N.H., man to settle a $33,000 gambling debt.

The rings made their way into the hands of a sports memorabilia dealer in Massachusetts, who was arrested in December 1997 and charged with extortion and sale of stolen property. He had tried to sell the rings to John-Henry Williams, who is now known for marketing his father’s memorabilia.

The dealer and two others were acquitted of extortion in March. Sutton did not say which man filed the motion seeking the rings.