The thief who stole the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum gold bar in August 2010 appeared in federal court and changed his plea to guilty. In March 2018, he pleaded not guilty at his first appearance.
Richard Steven Johnson, 41, of Rio Linda, California faces up to 15 years in federal prison for his part in the 2010 crime. His alleged co-conspirator Jarred Alexander Goldman, 31, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida remains out on bail pending trial. Goldman’s trial is expected to begin in Key West in mid-May.
For decades the gold bar had been a favorite item for museum-goers. A specially designed exhibition case allowed visitors to reach in to touch the bar, but not remove it.
The bar was recovered in 1980 from the Spanish shipwreck the Santa Margarita, which was lost in a September 1622 hurricane.
Johnson was arrested in California on January 31, 2018 and transported to Key West to appear before the court.
Johnson appeared before federal Magistrate Lurana S. Snow on Friday, April 27, 2018. His change of plea to guilty was accepted by the court.
Johnson’s next appearance in court is expected to be for sentencing before federal Judge Jose E. Martinez. No date has been set for sentencing. Johnson remains in federal custody.
The gold remains unrecovered.