Paintings stolen from Perry museum recovered
Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 7:53 am | Updated: 7:56 am, Thu May 12, 2011.
A Medina man has been charged for possessing two paintings stolen from Perry Public Library, state police said.
The Lemuel Wiles paintings and other items were found inside a storage locker belonging to Michael Ortiz’s father in Brockport, said Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen.
Ortiz, 40, is already facing trial in connection with antique thefts in Warsaw. He was arraigned Tuesday for third-degree criminal possession of stolen property after grand jury proceedings in Monroe County.
He was committed to Monroe County Jail without bail.
“Boat Landing at Silver Lake” and “Early Snow” were taken from the library in September 2008. They’re valued at more than $9,000.
“They had already recovered them last year, but they presented the case to the grand jury last month, and they arrested him yesterday,” said Library Director Peggy Parker on Wednesday.
“The only thing we know is they’re still in the evidence locker and I did see them, so I’m assured it’s our paintings,” she continued. “We wouldn’t be able to get them back until after the trial.”
The paintings were discovered after a lengthy investigation by state police and numerous other agencies. Troopers believe some of the recovered items may have been taken from locations across Western New York.
Ortiz and his brother Roy, 37, are already facing trial in Wyoming County. They’re each charged with third-degree grand larceny, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, and fourth-degree grand larceny.
The two brothers are accused of stealing a Union Army Coat and swords from the Gates House Museum in Warsaw, back in November 2009.
They’ll be tried separately on the Warsaw charges, O’Geen said. Michael’s case will go to trial June 2 and Roy’s case is slated for July 11.
Roy Ortiz is being held in Wyoming County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Wiles was a Perry native whose works reflected the Hudson River school of painting, which emphasized romantic images of America’s wilderness. His paintings depict local scenes, along with views of Europe and the western United States.
Parker said the paintings were missing their frames but their condition appeared otherwise unchanged. She said the library is looking forward to getting them back.
“We were thrilled when they were in the same condition,” she said. “Other than the fact the frames were missing, the paintings appeared unchanged.”
Historic societies and others with questions about the items recovered are asked to call state police investigators at (585) 398-4100.