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Pair Who Pilfered $3M Painting Get Two To Three Years In Prison

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(Source: AP)

(Source: AP)

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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After stealing a $3M painting from a Venezuelan museum then trying to sell it to undercover detectives, two people were sentenced in Miami federal court Tuesday.

Prosecutors said that 46-year-old Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman of Miami was sentenced to two years in nine months in prison, and 50-year-old Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo of Mexico City was sentenced to one year and nine months, CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald reports.

Both pleaded guilty to charges in late October. The two were caught by undercover detectives in July.

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

The Huffington Post reports that, in August, a crowd of topless women wearing only red pants gathered in front of the Caracas Museum to demand the painting’s return as Venezuelan attorney general Luisa Ortega’s attempts to reach US officials have reportedly gone unrecognized.

Reuters reports there are five other Matisse pieces on the the FBI’s National Stolen Art File database, including a collection of 62 sketches.

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

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)

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