E. Forbes Smiley III will almost certainly be sentenced to a period of incarceration this week. The question is how long will he be imprisoned.
Smiley was one of the world's premiere map dealers until it was uncovered that those rare finds he brought to the market were in fact stolen from unsuspecting libraries around the world. He has now plead guilty to theft charges in both state and federal court in Connecticut. He has confessed to the theft of more than 100 maps worth at least $3 million. Those close to the investigation suspect he has stolen far more than authorities have been able to uncover.
On Wednesday September 27 he will be sentenced in federal court by United States District Court Judge Janet B. Arterton. He faces up to six years. His lawyer has filed a sentencing memorandum requesting no more than three years.
In an unusual move in the federal courts, victim of Smiley's thievery have filed a sentencing memorandum of their own. They are requesting that the judge depart upward from the guidelines given the extraordinary harm Smiley is done.
My hunch is that Arterton will sentence him in the four year range.
Later in the week, Smiley will then appear in state court to be sentenced on state charges. He faces up to five years in that forum. The timing of the sentences here is key. By an unusual quirk of federal law, if Smiley begins to serve his state sentence first, he would then have to start his federal sentence once released from state custody. In other words, if sentenced to five years in state custody, he would serve that sentence, then be remanded to federal custody where he would begin the federal sentence. Lawyers call those consecutive sentences. However, ne can serve both sentences concurrently if sentenced in federal court first.
Bottom line: The likely result is that he will be sentenced to four years in the federal system and will serve 85 percent of that time. While serving that sentence he will also serve his state sentence, becoming parole eligile after he serves half of his five year sentence. He's out and about in 2010. He should begin to serve his sentence sometime after the first of the year.
Some libraries are said to be mulling civil suits but appear hesitant for fear Smiley has nothing. He has offered substantial restitution as part of his plea deal.
It would be foolish not to sue. If Smiley has in fact hidden proceeds away, victims can and should secure judgments against him. He was at one point a world traveler, logging scores of trips to Great Britain alone during one ten-year period. Odds are there is cash out there just waiting him for to come spend it.
A judgment can be collected on for up to 20 years, if you can find assets. I say put Mr. Smiley under a financial microscope for 20 years. When he is released from prison sometime in 2010, follow Smily to whatever cash he has secreted.
Smiley has done enormous damage to the markets on which dealers of books, maps and ephmera depend. He has also hurt research institutions in ways that cannot easily be repaired. We should not forget the harm he has done.
[This post was also published on the blog Bibliophile: Bibliophile ]