A dying ex-mobster convicted of stealing one of the pairs of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” in 2005 received no jail time Monday in a sentencing hearing held in Duluth, Minnesota.
Terry Jon Martin, 76, was sentenced to time served with one year of supervised release and charged with a $23,500 fine to be paid to the Judy Garland Children’s Museum in Grand Rapids, where he stole the iconic film artifacts.
According to court memos from Martin’s attorney obtained by the Associated Press, Martin had been told by a mob associate that the slippers had a value of $1 million because they were adorned with real jewels, when in reality they are adorned with red sequins. Martin claims he has never seen “The Wizard of Oz” and did not know their cultural value.
Martin wasn’t charged until last year, at which point he admitted to smashing the museum’s display case glass with a hammer to take the slippers and entered a guilty plea. When he discovered the slippers did not have actual jewels, he gave them to the associate that convinced him to take part in the theft and told him he never wanted to see them again. The slippers went missing until they were recovered by the FBI in 2018.
“At first, Terry declined the invitation to participate in the heist. But old habits die hard, and the thought of a ‘final score’ kept him up at night,” Martin’s attorney Dane DeKrey wrote in the court memo. “After much contemplation, Terry had a criminal relapse and decided to participate in the theft.”
At the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz told Martin that he would have been sentenced to 10 years in prison had he been arrested closer to the time of theft, but would not receive jail time given his failing health. Martin attended the hearing in a wheelchair and oxygen mask, as he is diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and is expected to die in the coming months.
The slippers that Martin stole are one of four that have been preserved from the filming of “Wizard of Oz,” with the other pairs belonging to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Smithsonian, and a private collector. The slippers Martin stole had been on loan to the Garland Museum from another private collector and are not expected to ever return to display at the museum.
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