Four months after leaving his post March 21, 2007, as curator at the American Numismatics Association’s Edward C. Rochette Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., Wyatt E. Yeager traveled to Melbourne, Australia, to attend a public auction of coins he has since admitted he stole from the ANA museum.
During Yeager’s plea hearing Jan. 12 in Federal District Court in Wilmington, Del., Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Hall told presiding Judge Leonard A. Stark: “The American Numismatic Association contacted Mr. Noble of Noble Numismatics, and Mr. Noble confirmed that Mr. Yeager had been present in Australia for that auction, and that they had sold the coins, the coins that were missing from the ANA, at auction.”
Hall also stated that the government had obtained “travel evidence” to confirm that Yeager had traveled to Australia during the time of the auction (July 24 to 27, 2007), according to the official transcript of the hearing.
Hall stated during the hearing that the value of the coins sold in the Australian auction was $223,184.
Yeager has admitted that the ANA’s rare Australian 1813 “Holey dollar” of 5 shillings, cataloged as Spalding 20, and the “Dump” of 15 pence, Mira dies A1, were among the coins sold in the Noble auction.
Judge Stark asked Yeager to describe in his own words the offense to which he was pleading guilty.
According to court records, Yeager responded:
“In early 2007, I stole numerous coins from the American Numismatic Association; and further, I sold them at auction and online.”
According to facts presented by Hall during the hearing, Yeager sold coins he had stolen from the ANA in auctions conducted by Bowers and Merena in Baltimore and in St. Louis in March, May and June of 2007. The total value of coins sold in the Bowers and Merena auction was said to be $293,771.
Hall noted: “... Some of the coins that were sold through Bowers and Merena were sold through a friend of Mr. Yeager’s. Some were sold in Mr. Yeager’s name. Others were sold through a friend of Mr. Yeager in his name.”
In his plea agreement, Yeager agreed to make restitution of $984,770 to the American Numismatic Association for the total amount of all the coins he has admitted stealing from the organization’s museum.
According to the transcript of the plea hearing, Yeager also agreed to disclose his assets in a financial statement and waive his right to appeal the case the government has brought against him.
At the conclusion of the Jan. 12 plea hearing, Judge Stark released Yeager on his own personal recognizance, with stipulations that he report to pretrial services by telephone weekly, advise the court of any change in address, and return to the federal court in Wilmington for sentencing at 8 a.m. on April 24.
Informed sources confirm that Yeager returned to his home in Ireland after his court appearance in the United States on Jan. 12.
Yeager pleaded guilty to one felony count — theft of major artwork in violation of Title 18, Section 668, of the United States Code — and faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release following any term of imprisonment, restitution, forfeiture and a $100,000 special assessment. ■