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6 Charged In Santa Monica Art Heist

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SANTA MONICA (AP) — Los Angeles County prosecutors have charged six people with allegedly nabbing at least $3.2 million worth of paintings and valuables from a Santa Monica home.

All six pleaded not guilty Friday to counts ranging from conspiracy to first-degree burglary and were ordered jailed on $10 million bail.

Prosecutors allege 43-year-old Darren Merager broke into financier Jeffrey Gundlach’s home while he was away on business in September and took paintings by artists like Jasper Johns and Richard Diebenkorn, and one especially valuable work by Piet Mondrian, that spurred a $1.7-million reward offer. They also allegedly swiped wine, jewelry and a Porsche.

Prosecutors say Merager returned to steal the Porsche at the behest of 45-year-old Jay Jeffrey Nieto.

Merager’s 68-year-old mother Brenda Merager, 40-year-old Wilmer Cadiz, 29-year-old Wanis Wahba and his 26-year-old brother Ely Wahba are charged as accessories.

RELATED STORIES:
Thief Reportedly Nabs $10M Worth Of Art, Jewelry From Santa Monica Home
High-Profile Bond Trader Ups Reward To Nearly $1.7M For Stolen Art

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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