Judge Orders Art Forger to Donate Fakes to Gallery
Jan. 17, 1990
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A judge sentenced an art forger to 10 months in prison and ordered him to donate four fake 19th century paintings to a gallery so that others could study his illegal craft.
Robert L. Trotter of Kennett Square, Pa., pleaded guilty in August to one count of wire fraud for using the telephone to sell forgeries.
Prosecutors said Trotter passed off 55 works he had painted as 19th century paintings by forging signatures and treating old canvasses with chemicals to make the paint crack.
The paintings also were placed in old frames. They were sold in 11 states.
U.S. District Judge Alan H. Nevas on Tuesday sentenced Trotter to 10 months in prison, ordered him to pay nearly $70,000 in restitution and to donate four of the fake paintings to the Yale University Art Gallery for permanent exhibition and study of the art of forgery.
The FBI began an investigation in May after receiving a tip from the owners of a gallery who realized a 19th century painting they had bought from Trotter was a fake.
Eugene and Mary Anne Shannon stopped payment on their $25,000 check to Trotter after consulting with another dealer and confirming the painting was not an authentic work of John Haberle, a 19th-century New Haven artist.
Authorities said Trotter sold the forgeries to auction houses and art dealers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
Nevas ordered Trotter to pay $68,400 in restitution to four people who purchased fakes between February 1985 and May 1989. He also ordered Trotter to undergo psychiatric counseling, and told him to surrender by Feb. 6.
Trotter's attorney, public defender Richard Reeve, did not immediately return a reporter's telephone call after Tuesday's sentencing.