Lester F. Weber, age 46, and Lori E. Childs, age 49, both of Newport News, Virginia, were indicted by a federal grand in an indictment returned on February 13, 2008. Weber and Childs face charges of Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, Making and Subscribing False Tax Returns and Theft from an Organization Receiving Federal Funds.
Chuck Rosenberg, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement today after Weber and Childs made their initial appearance in the United States District Court in Norfolk. Weber and Childs face a maximum penalty of twenty years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
According to the indictment, Lester F. Weber was employed by The Mariners’ Museum as an archivist from December 2000 through September 2006.
Weber was promoted to Director of Archives in March of 2006. In such capacity, Weber had archival and custodial duties for various types of historical nautical materials, including brochures, documents and pictures.
The indictment alleges that from approximately 2002 through September 2006, Weber and his wife, Lori E. Childs, engaged in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud by fraudulently obtaining items from The Mariners’ Museum and then selling these items over the internet, on the eBay auction website.
The indictment alleges that Weber and Childs sold approximately $162,959.23 in merchandise on the eBay website from January 2002 through September 2006.
These sales included maritime related items, as well as other hobby related collector’s items. Specifically, from November 2005 through September 2006, the indictment alleges that Weber and Childs sold approximately 1,400 items of a maritime or nautical nature.
The investigation determined that many of these items were of the type maintained by The Mariners’ Museum.