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'Antiques Roadshow' dealer told to repay $830,000

Friday, July 12, 2002

By Joann Loviglio, The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- An antiques dealer was sentenced to one year in federal prison and ordered to pay $830,000 in restitution for staging phony appraisals on the PBS series "Antiques Roadshow" and defrauding Civil War collectors.

Russell Pritchard III, 39, of Bryn Mawr, pleaded guilty to making the bogus TV appraisals as well as to charges he defrauded artifact owners, getting items for far below their value and then selling them privately and pocketing the profit.

According to prosecutors, Pritchard made between $800,000 and $1.5 million on the fraudulent transactions. He had faced a maximum sentence of 135 years in prison and more than $5.2 million in fines, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker sentenced Pritchard to one year and one day because of his cooperation in a related case against his father and his work with civic and community groups, his lawyer Eric W. Sitarchuk said.

"We were obviously disappointed that the judge chose to send him to jail but very satisfied that she granted our request for a significant downward departure," Sitarchuk said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Goldman hoped the sentence would "send a message to people in the collecting field and act as a deterrent" to others who might consider similar scams.

Pritchard's co-defendant, ordnance expert George Juno of Allentown, pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Aug. 1.

Prosecutors alleged that Pritchard and Juno and their company, American Ordnance Preservation Association, staged the TV appraisals to attract customers. According to the indictment, they gave swords and fake stories to two friends, then had them pose as collectors during "Antiques Roadshow" tapings in Seattle and Denver that aired in 1997.

Pritchard later forgave a $10,000 loan to one of the friends in exchange for the friend's favorable testimony, prosecutors said.

"Antiques Roadshow," produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, severed ties with Juno and Pritchard, whom his lawyer said has since left the antiques business.

Pritchard sought leniency in sentencing by agreeing to cooperate in a related case involving him and his father, Russell Pritchard Jr., 62, former director of the Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia.

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