April 16, 2024

News and Political Commentary

Ruby slippers thief: Aging mobster avoids jail sentence but has to pay $300 per month

2 min read

A dying thief who confessed to stealing a pair of ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” because he wanted to pull off “one last score” was given no prison time at his sentencing hearing Monday.

Terry Jon Martin, 76, stole the slippers adorned with sequins and glass beads in 2005 from the Judy Garland Museum in the late actor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. He gave into temptation after an old associate with connections to the mob told him the shoes had to be adorned with real jewels to justify their $1 million insured value, his attorney revealed in a memo to the federal court ahead of his sentencing in Duluth.

Martin showed little emotion as the judge handed down the sentence and was physically unable to fully rise from his chair as the judge adjourned the hearing. He declined to address the court. But defense attorney Dane DeKrey said the resolution of the case should bring a measure of closure to the government, the museum, the slippers’ owner and to Martin himself.

The government was able to hold one person accountable, DeKrey said, while the museum and the collector who owns the slippers got to find out what happened. And Martin was able to close this chapter in the final months of his life instead of taking his secret to his grave.

“They will never be made whole in this case,” the attorney said of the victims. “But they’re more whole than they had been in the last 18 years.”

The FBI recovered the shoes in 2018 when someone else tried to claim a reward. Martin wasn’t charged with stealing them until last year. Prosecutor Matthew Greenley said in court Monday that investigators used phone records to zero in on Martin, and used his wife’s immigration status as leverage to search Martin’s home and get him to confess.

He pleaded guilty in October to theft of a major artwork, admitting to using a hammer to smash the glass of the museum door and display case to take the slippers. But…

Steve Karnowski, The Associated Press

2024-01-29 17:28:03

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