Dealer pleads guilty to stealing nearly 100 rare maps
NEW HAVEN, Conn. --A dealer admitted in federal court Thursday he stole nearly 100 rare maps worth about $3 million in a case that sent librarians and investigators scurrying to review collections and recover stolen treasures.
E. Forbes Smiley III, 50, of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., and Sebec, Maine, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of major artwork in connection with the theft of a map from Yale University.
He admitted taking 97 maps over eight years from the New York and Boston public libraries, the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Harvard University library and the British Library in London. The oldest maps dated back to the 1500s.
Smiley was released after posting $50,000 bond. He faces nearly six years in prison, a fine of up to $1.6 million, and will have to pay restitution. The amount has not yet been determined.
Smiley also pleaded guilty Thursday to three larceny charges in state court in connection with the Yale map thefts. He could face about five years in prison based on the state plea agreement, prosecutors said
With Smiley's help, most of the maps have been recovered from dealers and galleries, a process U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor compared to a treasure hunt. Prosecutors said six maps have not been returned by those who have them and five others are lost.
"It is in effect a decision by Mr. Smiley, having done very bad acts against people and institutions who he liked and has respected and worked with for a number of years, to make them whole for the damage he has done," said Smiley's attorney, Richard Reeve.
Smiley was arrested a year ago after a librarian at Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library found a razor blade on the floor. Police confronted Smiley, who had been reviewing rare books, and found seven maps worth nearly $900,000 in his briefcase and pockets, according to a police report.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on the federal charge Sept. 21 and the state charge on Sept. 22.
Yale and other top map libraries reviewed their security procedures after Smiley's arrest.