Lester Weber, the former curator of the Mariners' Museum who entered guilty pleas in June to charges of theft, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns, has been sentenced to four years in prison, the Newport News Daily Press reported yesterday. Weber admitted to stealing more than 3,500 documents and other items from the museum and selling them on eBay.
Weber's wife, Lori Childs, also entered a guilty plea related to the case in September (for filing a false tax return) - she was sentenced on Friday to a 15-month prison term.
U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith told Weber "You broke the trust of the public," adding "'What stands out about this case,' was not only the 'surreptitious and dishonest' manner of the crime, but also the repetitive nature of it over a long period of time. 'You did this ... because of your greed and furthering your own pocketbook,' Smith said."
Smith's sentence of 48 months is greater than the 33-41 months called for in federal sentencing guidelines ... it's nice to see a judge putting Travis' favorite phrase, "upward departure," to good use. Weber was also ordered to return the $172,357 he made on the eBay transactions. He and Childs have been ordered to report to prison within 45 days, the Daily Press notes.
The most unfortunate element of this case is that very few of the items stolen by Weber and sold have been recovered. But I have to say I'm delighted that Judge Smith handed down such a strong sentence.