Monday, July 28, 2014

News
Arrest Made In Destin From January's Stolen Art Case In Brantley
By Catalina Trivino


An update on a story we were first to bring you exclusively last month. Two people have now been arrested in connection with an art heist in Crenshaw county and authorities say it was an inside job...

This art theft mystery extends from south Alabama all the way to the Florida gulf coast -- and authorities say it involves two Geneva County residents. Investigators say Todd Pittman owns the artwork, yet he's charged with attempted theft of property. Heather Ledbetter is charged with receiving stolen property.

Investigators say they found more than $350,000 worth of stolen artwork in a Brantley storage unit in January.

In a statement, Geneva County Sheriff, Eugene Campbell, says investigators were suspicious.

He says it was, "due to the fact that Pittman had reported a burglary on July 4, 2010 after returning from vacation. He then filed a claim with State Farm for almost $500,000."

Investigators say Pittman filed at $487,000 claim, which included stolen artwork, jewelry and guns.

"It possibly could be an insurance fraud. The investigators with State Farm are looking into it right now," Said the lead investigator of this case from Crenshaw County, Mike Johnson.

Investigators say both suspects were found in a hotel in Destin, Florida Tuesday morning after they got a tip. Investigators had searched for the artwork for more than two years.

72 paintings were recovered in January, including originals and prints by artists like Rembrandt, Monet and Wyland.

The 2nd Judicial District Attorney, Charlotte Tesmer, says the storage unit where these paintings were located, was in Ledbetter's name.

"We have found out that she had rented out the storage facility under an alias name, where she bought a money order in Luverne and paid for it there. But they back-tracked it and found out her real name is Heather Ledbetter," Said Tesmer.

Currently, both Pittman and Ledbetter are in Okaloosa, Florida County Jail. On Wednesday, investigators from Alabama will be in Destin, Florida to question Pittman and Ledbetter.

Alabama News Network will keep you updated.