MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The FBI is investigating a crime in Philadelphia, and the suspect has ties to Mobile.
A rare bust of Benjamin Franklin valued at more than $3 million was stolen from an upscale home in a Philadelphia suburb on August 24. Attorney George D'Angelo told FOX10 News he was at work when his housekeeper called.
"She said there had been a burglary at the house. So I and my son Christopher went from town in Philadelphia out to my home in Bryn Mawr, and there were 10 members of the local police here," he said.
The owner of the bust said a former housekeeper he'd never even met was a prime suspect.
"It was someone who was on the staff of a cleaning service that I employ. I never saw her," D'Angelo said.
According to D'Angelo, the service had fired 46-year-old Andrea Lawton just three days before his prized bust was stolen. But D'Angelo said Lawton still knew how to get into his house.
"So she knew the pattern of my home, and knew that the girls would appear on a Friday morning, and knew that the first one showed up to do the laundry. And then, there was a hiatus of about two hours before the other cleaning girls would show up," he explained.
He said she was familiar with his house.
"During that two hours the security system had been turned off, and because she had worked here knew the routine," he said.
The bust was on a pedestal in D'Angelo's drawing room. He said thinks Lawton intended to steal the Pedestal too.
"(She planned to take) the pedestal out of the house. When the other girls were showing up, she quickly departed. The pedestal was left behind," he said.
While police and the FBI were looking for Lawton up north, she was apparently in her hometown of Mobile with the stolen bust. But she didn't stay long.
Lawton got on a bus in Mobile last week and headed back north. She was arrested in Elkton, Maryland, on Friday. Police said she had the stolen bust in a duffel bag.
D' Angelo said Lawton apparently had no idea how difficult it would be to fence the rare item.
"It would be no way of her knowing the value of it, it would seem to me. And that's why I say the only thing that comes to mind is that it's bizarre for her to take that of all things."
The owner said the breastplate on the 25 pound bust was cracked. He's hoping he can get it repaired once it's returned.
"I looked upon the portrait bust as being a part of our history our treasure," he said.
Some other stolen items including a picture of conductor Victor Herbert and a baton have not been recovered.
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