Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mariners' Museum Archivist Charged

Way back in May 2007 I noted a $1.35 million civil suit filed by the Mariners' Museum (Newport News, VA) against the museum's former archivist (Lester Weber) and his wife (Lori Childs). Weber and Childs have now been indicted by a federal grand jury, the Virginian-Pilot reports. Weber was charged with "26 counts of mail and wire fraud, theft and filing false tax returns. His wife was charged with 25 similar counts, excluding theft."

Weber and Childs made their first appearance in federal court yesterday after the indictment (made late last week) was unsealed. They were released on $5,000 bond each. "In four years and nine months, the couple sold nearly 1,500 items [on eBay], receiving $162,959 from buyers across the country, according to the indictment. They also are accused of failing to report income from those sales in four years of tax returns."

Among the items Weber is accused of stealing were materials from the museum's collection of Titanic memorabilia, including original photographs.

Weber began working at the museum in 2000, and was the head of the archives for the six months before he was fired on 25 September 2006. "That same day, Weber and his wife terminated all of their eBay auction listings, the indictment says."

The civil suit against Weber and Childs is still pending, authorities said. The museum issued a statement yesterday saying "We will have no comment on this matter while proceedings under the indictment are pending." Weber and Childs told the court yesterday that they are "broke, unemployed and that their house is in default. A federal magistrate granted their request for court-appointed lawyers." They'll be in court next on 27 February for arraignment.

I'm working on finding the indictment text, and will post a link if I do.

2 comments:

Jill said...

Hi,

Here's a link to the indictment:

http://www.wavytv10.com/PDFs/Childs.Indictment.1.19.08.pdf

By the way, I absolutely love your blog and think it's the best book blog in Cyberspace! Keep up the great work.

Jill

JBD said...

Jill, thanks very much for your kind words!

The link takes me to a press release regarding the indictment, but from there I did get an email address for the press liaison, so hopefully they'll be able to send along the full text.