Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Possessing Stolen Audubon Prints
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday for possession of more than 100 stolen Audubon prints, most taken from the Louisiana State Museum.
District Judge Joseph Meyer Jr. told Michael Moskaluk that his crimes ″amounted to robbing the state of its history.″
″This is probably the first case that I have actually seen where the state of Louisiana is truly the victim,″ Meyer said.
Moskaluk was convicted July 1 of possessing more than 100 prints stolen from the museum, including 60 drawn by the naturalist John James Audubon.
He tore the state seal from the Audubon prints, which were part of a set of 435 that the state Legislature bought from Audubon’s widow in the early 1800s.
In addition to the museum’s prints, Moskaluk was convicted of possessing one Audubon print stolen from a Baton Rouge couple.
Meyer also sentenced Moskaluk to six months in jail for contempt of court because, the judge said, he used a forged transcript in his defense. Moskaluk acted as his own attorney during the trial.
Moskaluk claimed that curator Burton Harter had asked him to sell the museum’s prints, and that he gave Harter $5,000 of more than $87,000 paid by dealers.
Prosecutors said Moskaluk had pleaded guilty to five crimes over the past 24 years, including the theft of dozens of Audubon prints in Massachusetts.