COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Former ANA collections manager Wyatt Yeager, 33, has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, two years supervised release and ordered to pay $948,505 in restitution for the theft of approximately 300 historically significant coins and objects from the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, CO.
The sentence was imposed today in Federal District Court in Wilmington, DE. Judge Leonard P. Stark imposed the sentence based on Yeager’s guilty plea in January to one count of Theft of Major Artwork, a violation of Title 18, United States, Section 668.
“The harm caused by this theft transcends monetary loss – it was a terrible loss for the association and for collectors everywhere. The ANA’s collection provides a window into the history of society, culture and economics from the ancient world to the present day. Because of Mr. Yeager’s actions, significant cultural items will not be available to museum visitors, researchers and other interested groups,” ANA President Tom Hallenbeck said. “We are glad to see justice was served. Now that this case is behind us, the ANA can focus on its educational mission.”
Yeager embezzled more than $492,205 in rare coins from the ANA’s Money Museum and sold these items in auctions in Baltimore in May 2007, St. Louis in June 2007 and Melbourne, Australia, in July 2007. One of the coins in the Australian sale was the rare Australian 1813 Holey Dollar, which sold for $155,755.
Yeager embezzled an additional $492,535 in rare coins and sold them in an auction in Germany.
Yeager was the museum’s collections manager from January through March 2007. The theft was discovered by museum officials in October 2007 and was the subject of an extensive FBI investigation after museum staff confirmed the missing items.
“These charges are the result of the joint efforts of this office and Special Agent Thomas K. Vest, of the FBI Colorado Springs Resident Agency, Denver Division,” said Charles M. Oberly III, United States Attorney for the District of Delaware. “The embezzlement of such a large number of rare coins is a serious crime. Aggravating the seriousness of the offense is the fact that the coins are cultural property, a part of our history.”
“The FBI will continue to pursue those who misappropriate rare items, such as the coins embezzled by Yeager, and appreciate the District of Delaware’s commitment to prosecuting this significant crime,” said James F. Yacone, FBI Special Agent in charge of the Denver, Colo., Division.
The ANA retained Robert Wittman, Inc., a security and recovery consulting firm that specializes in recovering stolen art and collectibles, to investigate and recover the stolen coins. The company can be contacted at 610-361-8929.
This case was prosecuted by David L. Hall, Assistant United States Attorney. Hall has an extensive history of handling crimes involving art and cultural property. For more information on the case, contact Oberly or Hall at 302-573-6277.
A list of stolen items and other information on the theft can be found at www.money.org, by clicking on “Communications” and selecting “Museum Theft.”
The American Numismatic Association is a congressionally chartered nonprofit educational organization dedicated to encouraging people to study and collect money and related items. The ANA helps its 28,000 members and the public discover and explore the world of money through its vast array of education and outreach programs, as well as its museum, library, publications, conventions and seminars. For more information, call 719-632-2646 or go to www.money.org.