OAKLAND -- A 46-year-old Hayward man was sentenced to four years in federal prison Tuesday for knowingly receiving and then selling a historic gold jewelry box stolen from the Oakland Museum of California last year.

Andre Taray Franklin pleaded guilty in March, admitting that in early 2013, he sold a jewelry box that he knew had been stolen from the Oakland Museum of California at 1000 Oak St., according to a plea agreement.

The piece has an estimated value of $265,000, according to the federal complaint. Authorities originally said the value was about $800,000.

The jewelry box, made of California gold and adorned with gold-veined quartz, was made between 1869 and 1878. It was stolen from the Oakland Museum on Jan. 7, 2013. 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.

The box was recovered by Oakland police on March 6 from a home in Oakland that was identified in incriminating text messages on Franklin's phone, federal authorities said.

Franklin was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2013 on charges of theft of major artwork and unlawful concealment and disposition of stolen major artwork.


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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. When Franklin was arrested, he was wearing shoes that matched footprints found in mud outside the museum the night of the theft, according to federal documents.

In addition to prison time, he was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

"This prosecution, conviction and sentence send a strong message that the U.S. Attorney's Office values greatly, and will fight to protect, the museums and cultural institutions in Oakland and the Bay Area that maintain and display historic items for the public to enjoy," said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

Follow Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.