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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 15:36 GMT
Oscars theft suspect sentenced
Oscar stautettes
Oscar statuettes are gold-plated
An American dock worker has been put on three years probation in connection with the theft of 55 Oscar statuettes before 2000's Academy Awards.

Anthony Hart, 40, was sentenced in Los Angeles' Superior Court on Wednesday by Judge Terry A Green.

Hart, who pleaded no contest on 23 October to a charge of receiving stolen property, was also ordered to pay $200 (141) to his former employer Roadway Express.

The money will help compensate Ohio-based Roadway Express for the reward money it paid to salvage worker Willie Fulgear, who found all but three of the statuettes in a rubbish bin a week before the ceremony.

Lawrence Ledent
Lawrence Ledent: Sentenced last year
Hart - a dock worker at Roadway Express in Bell, LA, where the Oscars disappeared - is one of three men who pleaded no contest to criminal charges in the case.

Although maintaining his innocence, Hart said he agreed to plead no contest "because the system is not perfect and I don't want to get caught up in it".

His attorney Richard H Millard said the charge against Hart could be reduced to a misdemeanour if he remained free of criminal charge for 18 months.

Missing

Truck driver Lawrence Ledent, 39, and Los Angeles resident John Willie Harris, 55, had already been sentenced in connection with the theft of the Oscars.

Ledent was sentenced to six months in prison and five years probation in July 2000.

He was also ordered to pay $50,000 (33,000) to Roadway Express - also his former employer - which is the company contracted to ship the Oscars from Chicago every year.

He also had to pay the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences $1,050 (695) to compensate it for the three statuettes which are still missing.

Publicity

Harris, who is Fulgear's step-brother - was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $200 (141).

He also had to pay $921 (650) towards the value of the missing Oscars.

The gold-plated statuettes were worth about $18,000 (12,704) in total.

The police said Ledent and Hart stole the shipment of Oscars en route to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, hoping to sell them for huge profit.

But the publicity following the theft made that plan worthless, police said.

A police spokesman added that Ledent and Hart had told police where they could find the missing Oscars - but police did not find them there.

Instead, 52 of the missing statuettes - still wrapped in plastic and in individual white boxes - were found by Fulgear as he rummaged through a skip in the city's Koreatown.

See also:

22 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Oscar theft suspect charged
07 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Man jailed over Oscars theft
20 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Oscars found in rubbish bin
22 Aug 01 | Film
Oscar hopes for Thai movie
26 Mar 01 | Film
Crowe leads Gladiator to glory
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