Ex-Seaport Museum chief loses appeal bid

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Ex-Seaport Museum chief loses appeal bid

By Craig R. McCoy

Inquirer Staff Writer
The former head of the Independence Seaport Museum yesterday lost his bid to overturn his 15-year sentence.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit said yesterday that John S. Carter had given up his right to appeal the sentence when he pleaded guilty in 2007 to stealing about $1.5 million from the museum.

Carter’s Boston lawyer, James L. Sultan, said he would ask the entire Third Circuit court to reconsider the matter. He acknowledged, however, that the full court rarely did that.

Sultan had argued that prosecutors took advantage of the situation when they reached the plea deal with Carter without concessions that would have limited his risk of getting hammered at sentencing.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease has said Carter ruined his own chance of getting favorable treatment when he tried to rip off the museum one more time.

Even as Carter was negotiating his plea, he forged the signatures of two museum board members, including then-chairman M. Walter D’Alessio, to gain control of a museum-funded $1 million life insurance policy. The museum got wind of this and stopped it.

“We’re pleased with the result,” Pease said yesterday. “It’s the right result.”

In the appeal, Carter had argued that he was improperly given extra time behind bars because prosecutors alleged he intended to steal the entire life policy. Carter’s appeal said he had wanted only to borrow money against it.

The appellate panel’s four-page opinion did not address that argument. Rather, it said Carter had been fully aware of what he was doing when he gave away his right to appeal his sentence.

Carter, 58 and in poor health, is locked up at the Federal Medical Facility in Fort Devens, Mass., about 40 miles from Boston.

He led the Penn’s Landing museum for 17 years. He stole from it year after year, even though he was paid more than $300,000 a year at his peak, making more than the head of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He also lived free in a museum-owned home in Society Hill.

His faked invoices so he could spend $350,000 in museum money on his home in Cape Cod, Mass. He also spent $900,000 of the museum’s money to buy and maintain a powerboat and two sailboats.

Contact staff writer Craig R. McCoy at 215-854-4821 or cmccoy@phillynews.com.


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