October 2, 2013

Vermont man pleads guilty to stealing Robert Frost papers

Police say he stole two letters and 13 Christmas cards and sold them for more than $25,000.

The Associated Press

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. — A man charged with stealing original cards and letters written by poet Robert Frost that he found in a desk donated to a charitable organization where he worked has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in a deal with prosecutors.

Tim Bernaby, 44, of Hartland, accepted the plea deal Tuesday on a charge of unlawful taking of personal property. The charge carries a $100 fine.

Police said Bernaby took two letters and 13 Christmas cards written by Frost. They said the documents were in a desk donated three years ago to the Listen Center in White River Junction, where Bernaby worked. He then sold them for more than $25,000.

“Mr. Bernaby came into possession of the items, perhaps knowing their value, perhaps not,” Windsor County State’s Attorney Michael Kainen said in court.

Bernaby said he found the papers in the trash. Most were addressed to Frost’s former secretary.

The Valley News reported the letters are now in possession of the Plainfield, N.H., police department. A civil case will determine their lawful owner.

Bernaby’s attorney did not immediately return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

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