MDI woman charged in $100,000 jewelry heist

Posted Feb. 24, 2014, at 5:13 p.m.
Stafford Venema of Mount Desert
Hancock County Jail
Stafford Venema of Mount Desert

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Mount Desert woman has been named as a co-defendant in a case involving the alleged theft or more than $100,000 in jewelry from a local house.

Cassandra Murchison, 20, was summoned Sunday on a Class B theft charge, according to Ellsworth police. She is accused of participating in a theft of jewelry from the home on Dec. 2, 2013.

Already charged in the alleged crime is Stafford K. Venema, who police arrested last month. Police have said he is suspected of taking the jewelry over a period of several weeks.

He also has been charged with Class B theft, which in Maine is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Venema was indicted earlier this month on the theft charge and remains held on bail of $5,000 cash or $25,000 surety at Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth. Venema is trying to be accepted as a client into Hancock County drug court, according to court records.

Ellsworth police Chief John DeLeo has said that Venema is suspected of using money he got in exchange for selling some of the items to illegally purchase prescription pills.

According to documents filed in court in Ellsworth, eight items that Murchison and Venema are accused of taking have a combined value of $116,350. Among them are an aquamarine ring of more than 40 karats that had an estimated value of $47,000; an 18-inch heavy gold chain with attached charms with an estimated value of $23,000; and a lobster brooch worth an estimated $20,000.

Venema and Murchison are accused of taking most of the items from a safe inside the home and selling them to gold buyers in Bangor and Ellsworth. The lobster brooch, which was adorned with diamonds, rubies and other gemstones, was melted down for its gold last month, police wrote in court records.

Venema has confessed to stealing the jewelry, according to the documents. Police have indicated that some of the jewelry has been recovered but have not specified which pieces have been.

Police wrote in court documents that, based upon transaction records and statements from Venema, the $20,000 lobster brooch may have been sold for between $700 and $1,000 and the heavy gold chain and charms, valued at $23,000, may have been sold for $600.

Venema also told police he thinks he sold a black pearl with an estimated value of $3,500 for $80 and a set of gold pinecone earrings and matching pinecone pendant, valued at $3,850, for $100, court documents indicate.

 

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