Chilmark Resident Admits Map Theft
Mr. Smiley Pleads Guilty in Connecticut to Stealing and Selling Rare Maps; Sentencing Is Set for September
By JAMES KINSELLA
NEW HAVEN - Edward Forbes Smiley 3rd of Chilmark yesterday pleaded guilty in federal and state courts in New Haven, Conn., to the theft of rare maps from a Yale University Library - part of a string of 97 maps that he stole between 1998 and 2005.
Mr. Smiley, a once respected dealer in antiquities, almost certainly faces years in federal or state prison for his admitted crimes.
He also has agreed to pay restitution to dealers and institutions that suffered from his actions. He faces claims totaling an estimated $1.8 million or more.
Mr. Smiley's attorney, Richard Reeve, estimates the current value of the maps that his client acknowledged stealing at more than $3 million.
As part of his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton, Mr. Smiley specifically recounted how he went into the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library on June 8 2005, and stole five rare documents. The Beinecke thefts form the basis of both the federal and state cases against Mr. Smiley. "I very much regret my actions," Mr. Smiley said, standing at the defendant's table. "I apologize to the court and to all the people and institutions damaged by my actions."
The thefts, he said, were committed "against people and institutions I liked and respected and worked with for a number of years. I want to make them as whole as I can for the damages done."
Mr. Smiley pleaded guilty in federal court to one count in a criminal information, which is not an indictment, filed by the U.S. attorney's office. The count states that Mr. Smiley stole about 97 antique maps, including a rare map titled Vninersi Orbis, sevterreni glo. In admitting that he stole the map, an object of cultural heritage more than 100 years old and worth more than $5,000, Mr. Smiley acknowledged that he had committed a federal felony.
For his admitted offense, Mr. Smiley can be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison, and fined up to $1,610,400 - the value of the 18 thefts that federal authorities believe they could prove at trial.
Based on sentencing guidelines, however, Mr. Smiley more likely faces somewhere between 57 and 71 months in prison. The federal government also has stipulated that Mr. Smiley place a place a lien accounting for his half interest in his Chilmark property and another property that he and his wife own in Maine.
Then it was off to state superior court farther down School street, where Mr. Smiley pleaded guilty to three felony thefts from the Beinecke library.
The thefts included the sevterreni map, a portrait of John Smith from a 1631 map of New England and a 1635 map titled Part of America, Part of China. Judge Richard Damiani told Mr. Smiley that he could be sentenced up to 60 years in prison and or fined $45,000. But Judge Damiani said he was inclined to sentence Mr. Smiley to five years in state prison for each count, though the sentences would run concurrently and also concurrently with whatever federal time he serves.
Institutions from whom Mr. Smiley acknowledged stealing include The New York Public Library, the Houghton Library at Harvard University the Boston Public Library, the British Library of London, the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale.
The federal courtroom yesterday afternoon was crowded with members of the print and broadcast media. As Mr. Smiley walked out of the courthouse and into the scrambling press corps, a man across the street on the New Haven green shouted out "Guilty, guilty!"
In a press statement issued yesterday, U.S. District Attorney Kevin J. O'Connor praised the law enforcement effort. "I want to commend the FBI, and all who assisted in this investigation, for scouring the globe at a great expense of time, effort and financial resources in order to return these stolen maps to their rightful owners," he said in the statement. "This case should serve as a cautionary tale for institutions that house rare and valuable books, maps and other cultural artifacts. While most individuals who have access to these artifacts have legitimate scholarly purposes and treat them with respect, there are a dishonest few who will behave criminally when given the chance. Hopefully, security procedures in these institutions have been, and will continue to be, improved so that these artifacts can be protected and enjoyed by all for generations to come."
Sentencing in federal court is scheduled for Sept. 21, with sentencing in state court to follow the next day.