Mark Lugo, NJ art thief, sentenced to three years in New York for stealing from hotels


New York – A court here has sentenced a New Jersey wine steward to three years in prison following a spree of art thefts in California and New York in which the convict took famous works to decorate his home, according to The Associated Press.

Mark Lugo, 31, who occasionally worked here as a sommelier in fancy Manhattan restaurants, had already pleaded guilty to stealing a $350,000 drawing by the Cubist painter Fernand Leger from the lobby of the Carlyle Hotel here, according to the AP, which said in November he had completed a 138-day sentence in California for the theft of a $275,000 Picasso drawing called “Tête de Femme.”

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Lugo was in the same New York case convicted of stealing five works by the South Korea-born artist Mae Yim from another Manhattan hotel in June, according to the news agency, which also reported that Lugo faces charges stemming from the alleged theft of three bottles of Château Pétrus Pomerol — valued at $6,000 together — from a wine store in Wayne, New Jersey.

Mark Lugo was quoted as simply saying, “I’m sorry,” as a judge passed sentenced.

James Montgomery, a defense lawyer, noted that Lugo had not been motivated by greed. If Lugo completes a rehabilitation program, he may be released in as little as six months, according to the AP.

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The Jersey Journal reported in December that Montgomery had passed through a personally very difficult time.

“I think it’s more than just liking art,” Montgomery was quoted as saying after his client’s arraignment. “I think time will show that Mr. Lugo is someone who has been struggling with particular difficulties and went through a very difficult six-week-to-two-month period.”

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