A dual citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom pled guilty to transporting stolen gold and silver collectible coins in interstate and foreign commerce.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, Acting United States Attorney of the Southern District of Florida, Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Thomas Robarge, Special Agent in Charge, United States Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Southeast Region, made the announcement.
Lewis Bennett, 40, of Delray Beach, pled guilty to one count of transporting stolen property valued at $5,000 or more in interstate or foreign commerce. Sentencing is scheduled for February 12, 2018, before United States District Judge James Lawrence King in Key West, Florida. At sentencing, Bennett faces a statutory maximum of ten years in prison.
According to court documents, including the agreed upon factual proffer, Bennett knowingly transported stolen gold and silver coins from St. Maarten to the United States. In May 2016, Bennett was serving as a crewmember on board a sailing vessel, KITTY R. On or about May 5, 2016, collectible gold and silver coins were stolen from KITTY R while the vessel was located in St. Maarten. Bennett knew the location where the coins were located on KITTY R and filed a police report in St. Maarten concerning the stolen coins.
In the early morning of May 15, 2017, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) received an emergency alert approximately 26 nautical miles from Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas, in international waters. An USCG helicopter ultimately rescued Bennett from a life raft and transferred him to an airport in Marathon, Florida. Bennett reported to the USCG that he had been on board an approximately 40-foot catamaran with his wife, and deployed his life raft after his catamaran began taking on water.
Collectible coins stolen from KITTY R were recovered from Bennett’s life raft and his residence in Palm Beach County, Florida. As of May 15, 2017, the market value of the recovered gold and silver coins was approximately $38,480.00. Bennett had knowingly transported these coins from St. Maarten to the United States.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and CGIS in this matter. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt K. Lunkenheimer and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily A. Rose.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.