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‘Wizard of Oz’ shoe thief avoids prison

by Agence France Presse

WASHINGTON, United States: An elderly US man who stole a pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” avoided prison time at his sentencing hearing on Monday.

Terry Martin, now 76, was sentenced to time served and a year of probation for the 2005 theft as he is in hospice care with six months to live, according to the New York Times.

The sequined shoes — indelibly associated with the character Dorothy clicking them together and saying repeatedly, “there’s no place like home” — were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in the actress’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

Martin, who had tried to turn his life around after serving prison time for a previous theft, gave into pressure from an “old mob associate” to steal the shoes in what his lawyers described as “one last score.”

They said he mistakenly believed the slippers were adorned with real rubies, which he hoped to sell.

He reportedly had never seen the beloved 1939 film.

The footwear was recovered in an FBI sting in 2018 but no charges were filed at the time. A million-dollar reward for information leading to an arrest was offered.

In May, Terry Martin was indicted by a grand jury and charged with one count of theft of major artwork.

He pleaded guilty in October.

The slippers are among four pairs that Garland wore during the making of the movie.

They are, the Justice Department previously said, “widely viewed as among the most recognizable memorabilia in American film history.”

It said that at the time of the theft the shoes were insured for $1 million but their current value is around $3.5 million.

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