Wild West-Obsessed Pa. Ex-Mayor Faces Trial

1.8K artifacts were seized
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2017 8:45 AM CST
Wild West-Obsessed Pa. Ex-Mayor Faces Trial
Former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed waits to make a statement after his preliminary arraignment in 2015.   (Dan Gleiter /PennLive.com via AP)

Former Harrisburg Mayor Steve Reed was a man with a bold vision: Building one of the country's finest Wild West museums in Pennsylvania. But while the Democrat spent years searching the West for artifacts and brought about 10,000 of them back, the museum never got built and he now faces trial on more than 100 counts relating to what prosecutors say was his obsession, the AP reports. Reed, who was mayor for 28 years before losing a primary election in 2009, has been charged with 112 counts of receiving stolen property, as well as one count of evidence tampering and one count of dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activities. Hundreds of other charges, including theft, were thrown out last year because of the statute of limitations.

Prosecutors say Reed, who successfully created the city's Civil War museum, used millions of dollars from the financially strapped city's bond issues to pay for artifacts like stagecoach equipment, Doc Holliday's dental chair, antique newspapers and guns, as well as a lot of forgeries, Reuters reports. He was known among dealers in the West for always paying top dollar and for sending an armed city cop to collect his many purchases, PennLive reported after he was charged in 2015. The city recovered about $4.4 million from selling thousands of the relics Reed bought, but some 1,800 other Old West artifacts were seized from his home and a warehouse he owns. The 67-year-old Reed's lawyers say he can prove he is the rightful owner of the seized items—and he wants them back. (Read more Wild West stories.)

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