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Authorities catch book thief in Northern Virginia

The United States Marshals Service came to northern Virginia in June of last year to track down a man they believe is guilty of theft. The item he supposedly stole was a first edition Book of Mormon, which was owned by an elderly female bookstore owner living outside of the state.

The 49-year-old man recently pleaded guilty to theft charges in the state where the book went missing and is slated to be sentenced next month. As a part of a plea deal, the man faces up to two years in prison along with probation. He could serve as few as seven-and-a-half months behind bars.

Media reports stated that the man was a friend to the 89-year-old bookstore owner. He had even helped her publish some of her poetry. The man took the book, which was estimated to be worth tens of thousands of dollars and was published in 1830. It had been in the woman's family for 40 years.

Before police were able to recover the book, they discovered that the man had already sold some of the pages to a book collector. The collector that purchased the pages did not know they were stolen at the time. The collector bought the pages for $7,500 and the man shipped them to him.

Authorities recovered the rest of the book upon the man's arrest, and returned it to the woman, who was overjoyed at seeing it once again. She just recently got the book back once authorities were done using it as evidence.

Police used distinguishing features of this rare book to identify it. The FBI was included in the investigation.

The man in this case likely knew of the overwhelming evidence weighing against him. When defendants feel they do not have a good chance at winning in a jury trial, they can enter guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Source: USA Today, "Ariz. woman reunited with stolen Book of Mormon," Jim Walsh, Jan. 16, 2013

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