- Julius Whigham II Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A Palm Beach Gardens man was one of two people arrested Monday for stealing a rare and valuable 17th century gold bar from a Key West museum in 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami said.
Federal authorities arrested Jarred Alexander Goldman, 32, of Palm Beach Gardens and Richard Steven Johnson, 41, of Rio Linda, Calif., alleging that the men conspired to steal to the bar from the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum.
Goldman and Johnson both face one count each of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and of theft of major artwork. If convicted, they each could face up to 15 years in prison.
According to a federal indictment, the gold bar was taken on or about Aug. 18, 2010. Prosecutors say the two men drove from West Palm Beach to Key West, then returned to Palm Beach County after completing the heist.
Goldman allegedly was the lookout while Johnson removed the bar from its display case.
The 74.85-ounce gold bar is valued at $550,000, according a 2015 report in the Florida Keys Keynoter newspaper. Since the theft, it has not been recovered, authorities said.
It initially was recovered from the Santa Margarita shipwreck in 1980 by treasure hunter Mel Fisher and his crew, the Keynoter reported. The Santa Margarita was among a fleet of Spanish ships that sank off the coast of the Florida Keys in 1622 after getting caught in a hurricane, according the museum’s website. Fisher died in 1998 at age 76.
The gold bar had been on display at the museum for more than 20 years. It was displayed in a case designed to let people to touch and pick it up, but not remove it, the Keynoter reported.
Court records show that Goldman was arrested in Jupiter in 2013 for DUI and reckless driving. He was placed on 12 months of probation. Goldman made his first appearance on the theft charge Tuesday morning in Key West before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow.
He invoked his right to silence and was assigned a public defender, court records show. Johnson also invoked his right and was assigned a public defender during a court appearance Monday in Sacramento, Calif.