Lester Weber, onetime director of the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, was charged along with his wife with 26 counts of theft, fraud and failure to file tax returns.
Federal prosecutors allege the couple stole historical items from the museum between 2002 and 2006 and peddled them on eBay, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot said Wednesday.
The allegedly stolen items include photos and papers from a mother and son who had survived the 1912 sinking of the Titanic.
Weber and Childs made their first appearance in federal court yesterday after the indictment (made late last week) was unsealed. They were released on $5,000 bond each. "In four years and nine months, the couple sold nearly 1,500 items [on eBay], receiving $162,959 from buyers across the country, according to the indictment. They also are accused of failing to report income from those sales in four years of tax returns."
The civil suit against Weber and Childs is still pending, authorities said. The museum issued a statement yesterday saying "We will have no comment on this matter while proceedings under the indictment are pending." Weber and Childs told the court yesterday that they are "broke, unemployed and that their house is in default. A federal magistrate granted their request for court-appointed lawyers." They'll be in court next on 27 February for arraignment.
The full indictment is posted at: http://www.wavytv10.com/PDFs/Childs.Indictment.1.19.08.pdf