OAKLAND -- A federal grand jury in Oakland on Thursday indicted a 45-year-old Hayward man in connection with the theft of a Gold Rush-era jewelry box from the Oakland Museum of California earlier this year.
Andre Taray Franklin was charged with theft of major artwork and unlawful concealment and disposal of stolen major artwork, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. The piece has an estimated value of $805,000, authorities have said.
If convicted, Franklin, who has 10 felony convictions, faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, according to federal court documents.
The theft of the jewelry box, which is made of California gold and adorned with gold veined quartz and made between 1869 and 1878, occurred on Jan. 7.
Federal authorities said the burglary was captured on surveillance video and that an ax was used to break into the museum and smash display cases to steal the historic jewelry box.
On March 3, Franklin was arrested by Oakland police while wearing shoes that matched footprints found in mud outside the museum the night of the theft, according to federal documents.
DNA on the ax was compared to Franklin's DNA and was reported as a likely match, but investigators were able to pin him to the theft after finding a picture of the jewelry box and incriminating text messages on his cellphone, according to federal documents.
The jewelry box was recovered from a home in Oakland identified in the incriminating text messages on Franklin's phone.
A federal affidavit says that Franklin sold the jewelry box to an unidentified business owner for $1,500 after the theft, then threatened to report the same man to police if he didn't pay Franklin $10,000.
Franklin is currently being held in Santa Rita Jail on a parole violation without bail. He will appear in federal court when his parole hold is lifted. A date for that has not been set.