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St. Paulite admits fraud in art case

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING
  • Star Tribune
  • August 17, 2012 - 7:57 PM

A former management consultant to the Carter Center in Atlanta pleaded guilty Friday in St. Paul to filing nearly $350,000 in bogus insurance claims for artwork, historical artifacts and household goods that he falsely reported stolen in 2007.

Jason W. Sheedy, 39, of St. Paul, was charged with wire fraud in the case. He faces 21 to 27 months in prison and up to three years of supervised release, according to federal sentencing guidelines, although he could be imprisoned for as long as 20 years. The decision will be up to U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson.

Sheedy, who told the judge that he had a doctorate in business and also had done some post-doctoral work in psychology, was caught last year trying to auction some of the artworks that he had reported stolen in 2007. An employee of the Art Loss Register, which specializes in deterring and investigating international art theft, notified police that six of the items were being sold through an Internet site called Artbrokerage.com.

Sheedy had told Minneapolis police five years ago that the art and some valuable household items were stolen from a rented moving van as he waited for a new condo to be finished.

He filed a $274,905 insurance claim for the art and historical items with AXA Art Insurance Corp., which paid him $254,832 in January 2008. He collected $93,302 from Farmers Insurance Group in February 2008 for the household goods.

Among the items Sheedy reported stolen were three photos signed by former President Jimmy Carter and the Dalai Lama holding their Nobel Peace Prizes. He estimated their value at $20,500.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. According to FBI special agent Amanda Knez, Sheedy had pawned and redeemed some of the missing pieces several times before he listed them on the auction site.

Investigators searched Shee-dy's home in the 1800 block of Feronia Avenue in St. Paul and found 22 works of art and historic items that had been reported missing.

The Carter Center in Atlanta listed Sheedy on its board of councilors when the FBI raided his home in September 2011. He also was listed as a donor who gave between $25,000 and $99,999 to the center during 2008-09.

Among the missing artworks were "Robbers Inferno," a 24-inch wood engraving from Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali's "Divine Comedy" portfolio; eight works by Rembrandt: "Bust of a Man," "Christ and the Woman," "Landscape With Cow," "Self-Portrait," "Artist's Mother," "The Card Player," "The Golf Player" and "The Raising of Lazarus"; two works by Russian-born French artist and designer Erte (Romain de Tirtoff); two by Ukrainian-American artist Anatole Krasnyansky and two by American pop artist Peter Max.

As part of his plea agreement, he forfeited the works and household goods, which will be sold at auction. The proceeds will offset any restitution the judge orders, estimated to be at least $348,134.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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