KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — One of two men accused of stealing a Key West museum’s 17th-century gold bar in 2010 has pleaded guilty.
Appearing Friday at Key West’s federal courthouse, Richard Steven Johnson, of Rio Linda, California, pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal an object of cultural heritage and stealing a major artwork.
The 74.85-ounce gold bar valued at $556,000 was found in 1980 on a 1622 Spanish galleon wreck site off the Florida Keys by late shipwreck salvor Mel Fisher.
Until the theft, the bar was displayed in an acrylic case at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum where visitors could touch it. Investigators proved that Johnson broke the case.
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Johnson’s sentencing date was not set. Alleged co-conspirator Jarred Alexander Goldman, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, is scheduled for trial next month.
No information is available regarding the bar’s status.
Online: Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, http://www.melfisher.org