Beinecke suspect admits stealing maps

Nearly one year after being arrested for stealing priceless maps from the Beinecke Library, Edward Forbes Smiley III entered a guilty plea in New Haven Superior Court on Thursday and admitted to stealing up to 97 maps from other institutions and libraries.

Smiley, considered a renowned dealer in antique maps, was arrested early last July after a Beinecke librarian caught Smiley removing maps worth over $800,000. After Smiley’s arrest by the Yale Police Department, federal authorities conducted a separate investigation and linked him to the thefts of several maps from museums and other academic institutions.

New Haven court officials said that after Smiley entered his guilty pleas, he made a brief statement acknowledging that he knowingly removed five maps from the Beinecke and apologizing for his actions over the years.

“I very much regret my actions and apologize to the court and to all the institutions that have been harmed by my conduct,” he said.

Spokesmen from the U.S. Attorney’s office said that over the years, Smiley had stolen maps from the New York and Boston public libraries, the British Library in London, Harvard University, Yale, and the Newberry Library in Chicago.

University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith was unavailable for comment. YPD Lt. Michael Patten said he is pleased that the case came to an uneventful close. He said that although the evidence against Smiley was strong, the case could have dragged on, had Smiley chosen to plead not guilty.

“Defense attorneys can always come up — or dream up, as the case may be — some sort of defense,” he said.

In a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office, prosecutors said Sterling Memorial Library had lost 11 maps, while the Beinecke had lost nine over the years. Harvard University lost eight maps, and the Boston Public Library lost 34 maps. In court, prosecutors told the judge that the majority of the maps have been recovered.

Smiley, who faces a federal prison sentence of up to 71 months, will appear in federal court and local courts on Sept. 21 and 22 for sentencing.

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