[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[BKARTS] Four charged in Transy bookheist
Four charged in Transy book heist
Febr. 12, 2005
POLICE DESCRIBE THEFT FROM LIBRARY
By Andy Mead And Cassondra Kirby
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITERS
They were local boys who attended Lexington high schools, played soccer and
stayed in town to attend college.
And yesterday, to the shock of those who knew them, the four 20-year-olds
were charged with a federal crime in connection with December's theft of
rare books and art worth as much as $500,000 from the Transylvania
Spencer W. Reinhard, 1013 Turnbridge Road; Warren C. Lipka, 974 Forest Lake
Drive; and Charles T. Allen II and Eric Borsuk, both of 613 Beaumont Avenue,
were arrested before dawn, and they were later hauled before a federal judge
with chains around their ankles.
Reinhard is a sophomore at Transylvania. He was arrested in his dormitory
Lipka is a University of Kentucky student and the son of the UK women's
soccer coach. Allen and Borsuk are taking a semester off from UK. They were
arrested at 613 Beaumont, a yellow brick bungalow near UK.
The irony of "good boys" from "good families" being charged with felony
transportation of stolen goods was not lost on FBI spokesman David Beyer,
who announced the arrests at a press conference with Lexington police and
"It is very striking to me that these gentlemen, young, very early in their
lives, afforded virtually every opportunity, afforded the best education
that our community can provide, would make these decisions that now are
going to result in them being held accountable in the federal system," Beyer
If convicted of the single charge against them, each could be sentenced to
up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $250,000.
All had been arrested before, but on fairly minor charges.
This time, the charges are serious, but they could have been much worse.
When Lexington police and FBI agents entered the house at which Allen, Lipka
and Borsuk were staying, one of the men greeted officers with a gun.
Authorities declined to identify which one, but Beyer said two Lexington
officers broke through an interior door to find a man at the top of a
staircase pointing a gun down at them.
"To the credit of the officers, they yelled 'Police, police, drop the gun,'
and fortunately the individual dropped the gun," Beyer said.
An affidavit filed to obtain arrest and search warrants gave these details
about the brazen crime and the investigation that led to yesterday's
Late last year, a man identifying himself as Walter Beckman called and
e-mailed to set up an appointment to view Transylvania's Special Collections
On Dec. 27, a young man identifying himself as Beckman arrived at the
library. He made a cell phone call, and a second young man appeared.
They "physically assaulted and restrained" B.J. Gooch, the special
collections librarian, the affidavit said, and started grabbing books and
Another librarian yelled at them on their way out, and they dropped two
large James J. Audubon books.
They fled in a gray minivan occupied by two other young men.
What they got away with included:
. An 1859 first edition of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species by Means
of Natural Selection.
. A collection of 20 sketches, or pencil drawings, by John James Audubon,
created about 1855 in preparation for his 1856-57 edition of Birds of
. Ortus Sanitatis (translated as Garden of Health), a two-volume natural
history, described by Transylvania as "exceedingly rare," published in the
1500s, with hand-painted, gold-illuminated woodcuts.
. An illuminated manuscript written in 1425 and hand-painted in color in
Winchester, England, for the Knolles family.
Four days after the robbery, two young men met with an employee at
Christie's, the famous auction house in New York City.
They said they were Mr. Williams and Mr. Smith and represented Walter
Beckman, "a very private individual" with rare books to sell.
One of them produced a red suitcase with the stolen goods from Transylvania.
They gave the Christie's employee a cell phone number, took the books and
Somehow (authorities would not give details), Lexington police learned about
the Christie's visit and contacted the auction house.
On Feb. 4, a Christie's official sent investigators a CD containing video of
the two men entering the auction house and meeting with the employee.
The men were Lipka and Reinhard, the affidavit said.
The Christie's employee later picked Lipka out of a photo lineup. Gooch, at
Transylvania, also was shown a lineup, and she said she was 80 percent sure
Lipka was one of the men who robbed her.
The books and artwork, apparently undamaged, were recovered yesterday,
Transylvania spokeswoman Sarah Emmons said the university was delighted at
that news but sad that one of its students was implicated.
The recovered works are irreplaceable and "extremely important, not only to
the university but to scholars across the country," she said.
Word of the arrests spread quickly through the UK and Transylvania
communities, and across Lexington.
Robbie Marks, 20, who lives in the dorm room next to Reinhard's, described
his neighbor as an avid soccer player and talented artist.
"I never would have thought anything like that -- not from him," Marks said
of the charges.
Justin Gottbrath, 20, who lives next door to the Beaumont Avenue house,
called Allen, Lipka and Borsuk "good guys" and said "their personalities
really don't fit the profile that would do something like that."
And Bo Lankster, the Tates Creek High School soccer coach who coached
Reinhard and knew Lipka, said Reinhard was "a committed young man" and Lipka
was "always respectful."
"I am really kind of shocked that their names would come up in connection
with something like this," Lankster said.
The Bonefolder: an e-journal for the bookbinder and book artist
For all your subscription questions, go to the
Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
Both at: <http://www.philobiblon.com>