A man who admits stealing ruby slippers used in “The Wizard of Oz” did it for “one last score,” according to a document filed Friday in federal court.
Terry Martin, 76, pleaded guilty to theft in October.
He stole the shoes from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, – Garland’s hometown – after being approached by a person he calls “an old mob associate,” offering him “a job,” Martin told authorities.
“While Terry had been crime free for years, the addict’s rush of anticipation was too much, and he gave into the temptation of ‘one last score,’” Martin’s attorneys wrote in a statement to the court.
According to Martin, the man who first proposed the theft – whom Martin has refused to name – wanted the shoes not for their value as cultural artifacts, but because he mistakenly thought the slippers contained real rubies that could be sold as valuable gems.
Martin admitted to taking the slippers after he entered the closed museum on August 27, 2005, by breaking through a door, then breaking the plexiglass enclosure that held the shoes with a sledgehammer. He claims they were in his possession for only two days.
The slippers were recovered by the FBI in a sting operation in 2018 when other suspects attempted to collect an insurance reward for their return, according to Martin’s plea agreement.
Despite a lengthy criminal history, prosecutors agreed to recommend no jail time for Martin because of his poor health. “Martin is on oxygen at all times … and a medical determination was made that Martin’s illness is terminal, and his life expectancy is less than six months,” prosecutors said in a court filing.
Martin’s sentencing is scheduled for January 29.
The stolen slippers are one of four pairs still known to exist that were used in the 1939 film that starred Garland as Dorothy Gale, according to the US Attorney’s Office for Minnesota.
The magical shoes are used in the movie to send Dorothy back to Kansas as she repeats, “There’s no place like home.”
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