Beinecke thief gets five years

Edward Forbes Smiley III, who shocked map collectors worldwide with his theft of 97 maps from libraries across the globe — including two libraries at Yale — was given a five-year prison sentence in state court on Friday.

Smiley, who was sentenced in Connecticut Superior Court, will serve the time concurrently with the 42-month federal sentence he received on Sept. 28. His attorney Richard Reeve said it is likely Smiley will be released in three years if he demonstrates good behavior.

In addition to the maps stolen from Sterling Memorial Library and Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Smiley confessed to stealing maps from institutions in London, New York, Boston and Cambridge, Mass. The maps found on his person following his 2005 arrest in New Haven alone were valued at approximately $878,000.

Librarians at the institutions involved have voiced disappointment with the length of both sentences. Before Smiley’s federal sentencing, Catriona Finlayson, an employee of the map collection at London’s British Library, had expressed the library’s desire for Smiley to receive a harsh sentence. After the federal sentencing, the British Library released a statement saying it was “extremely disappointed by the leniency of the sentence.”

Smiley made a deal with federal authorities, agreeing to help them recover the missing maps in exchange for a lighter federal sentence.

University Librarian Alice Prochaska said she is not surprised by the length of the sentence given on Friday, but she hopes Smiley will not be released from prison before his full term is served.

“This was a very serious crime, and he took advantage of a great many people,” she said. “He caused great financial hardship to dealers and great personal anguish to people who care about these collections.”

Before handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge Richard Damiani read from letters written by the victims of Smiley’s theft. Prochaska said the University was among those who wrote the statements.

“We pointed to the importance of the maps as part of a permanently damaged international inheritance,” she said. “We mentioned that he dropped one of the maps he stole from us in a gutter in New York. We pointed out the seriousness of the crime.”

Smiley also spoke at the sentencing, apologizing for his actions.

“Your honor, I have hurt many people,” Smiley said. “I stole very valuable research materials from institutions that made it their business to provide those materials to the public for valuable research. I am deeply ashamed of having done that.”

David Williams ’08, who has worked at Beinecke for over two years, said there was muted reaction on Friday when news spread of Smiley’s sentencing. The only real change he has noticed is increased caution of the part of security guards at the library, he said.

“Things haven’t changed that much,” he said. “But the security staff is more wary — a little, not a lot.”

Prochaska said the Smiley case has forced libraries to permanently change the way they treat their patrons.

“He betrayed the trust and friendship of everyone,” she said. “He had taken pains to be very friendly and charming, and staffs in libraries had helped him a lot. In the future, we have to be more careful in the way we give access to these wonderful materials, and we exist to give access.”

Smiley is scheduled to begin his sentence on Jan. 4, 2007.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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