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Accused Art Thieves Enter Pleas In Miami Court

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A Miami man and his alleged partner in crime from Mexico who reportedly tried to peddle a stolen Henri Matisse painting have pleaded not guilty in Miami federal court.

Marcuello Guzman, 46, of Miami and 50-year-old Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo of Mexico City are being held without bail and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Court records show that FBI agents posing as art dealers were negotiating the sale for $740,000 of “Odalisque in Red Pants” with Marcuello in Miami. The painting valued at $3 million was discovered stolen from Venezuela’s Caracas Museum of Contemporary Art in December 2002. The original 1925 work was swapped with a forgery.

Prosecutors say Ornelas brought the painting to a Miami Beach hotel from storage in Mexico City.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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