A Maryland man has been convicted of stealing thousands of dollars worth of sports cards and other collectibles from a storage unit owned by a former New Jersey card shop owner.
According to the Cecil (MD) Whig newspaper, David E. Stone, 46, was found guilty of theft of more than $25,000 and less than $100,000, a felony that carries a maximum 10-year sentence and a fine of up to $15,000.
The paper reported that jurors deliberated about three hours at the end of a two-day trial in Cecil County Court before rendering their verdict.
Elkton Police detectives took the case back in October when victim Danilo Cabahug called to report that someone had cut a hole into the metal door of his storage unit and removed the lock. Missing were baseball cards, comic books and other property. According to the paper’s report, Cabahug had been housing the items at Whalen’s Mini-Storage after he closed his store. Cabahug told investigators his unit contained about $250,000 worth of sports memorabilia.
Court papers indicate that after some of Cabahug’s property was found in another storage nearby, police approached 38-year-old Miguel Small, who then implicated Stone in the theft. Small is a co-defendant in the case and is facing ten charges including theft. His trial is set to start March 20, according to the paper.
Investigators say Stone had rented the adjacent storage unit but had abandoned it last fall, leaving some of his property behind, but renting another storage unit elsewhere in Elkton. Investigators say both units contained some of the items Cabaug had reported stolen. About $65,000 of stolen sports collectibles and comic books were recovered by detectives, according to court papers. Stone claimed he owned the items and hadn’t stolen them, maintaining that he’d been the victim of theft himself. In an effort to bolster that claim, the paper reported that Stone’s defense attorney told jurors he knew the card market, rattling off the names of some of the players on the stolen cards such as Pete Rose and Reggie Jackson and why some cards were worth more than others. However, Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Sentman told jurors Stone didn’t possess that knowledge when he spoke with detectives several months ago, suggesting Stone had been studying the card market in preparation for the trial.
There was no indication in the newspaper’s report on the specific contents of the collection, including what was discovered and what type of items are still missing.
Sentman told the jury investigators were only able to recover a fraction of the stolen collection, which Cabahug had pegged at $250,000.
“That’s only a portion of what’s missing,” he was quoted as telling the court about the items recovered compared to what was taken. “Where it is, we may never know.”
However, Stone was acquitted of stealing more than $100,000, which would have carried a stronger penalty. He was also acquitted of second degree burglary and other charges in the case. He’ll be sentenced for his role in the theft on May 2.