Florida Keys

They stole a 17th-century gold bar in Key West. Now they face 15 years in prison.

Two men teamed up to steal a 17th-century gold bar from a Key West museum on Aug. 18, 2010.
Two men teamed up to steal a 17th-century gold bar from a Key West museum on Aug. 18, 2010. Mel Fisher Maritime Museum

A federal judge Monday will sentence the two men who teamed up to steal a 17th-century gold bar from a Key West museum in 2010 and eluded police for more than seven years.

Richard Steven Johnson pleaded guilty to the crime while Jarred Goldman was convicted by a jury. Both face up to 15 years in prison.

Sentencing is set for 10:30 a.m. at the U.S. District Court in Key West before Judge Jose Martinez.

Goldman’s supporters, in letters recently filed in court, say he is no criminal and was goaded by Johnson into acting as a lookout inside the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.

On Aug. 18, 2010, Johnson broke into the display case and swiped the bar, valued by the museum at $550,000. The bar was in a case set up so visitors could reach in and lift it.

Goldman’s attorneys, who are asking for home confinement instead of prison, say he suffers from an anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and has chronic back problems for which he takes pain medication. Goldman’s only criminal history is a reckless driving conviction when he was 17.

“He is trusting and naive and easily exploited,” Heather Carr, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, wrote in a letter on behalf of the 32-year-old Goldman to the judge.

“He was a victim as much as Key West was a victim,” wrote his mother Debra Joy Goldman, a psychotherapist. “He was young, innocent and afraid. He was threatened, his sister’s life and his family were all threatened by Mr. Johnson.”

Johnson has also asked for sympathy from the judge, saying he has child abuse issues he hasn’t dealt with and a cannabis addiction.

“He never had a chance to be a child,” his sister wrote to the court.

Johnson took the gold bar to Las Vegas, where it was chopped up and sold. A portion of it was recovered by police.

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