Thief of war hero medals given 4 1/2 -year term Sentence rTC concurrent with Carroll time

March 30, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County man who admitted he stole medals -- including the nation's highest honor -- from three Anne Arundel County war heroes was sentenced in Anne Arundel Circuit Court yesterday to 4 1/2 years in jail.

Stephen V. Pyne, 35, a former Carroll County budget analyst, was sentenced by Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. after pleading guilty to three counts of theft Dec. 11.

The sentence will run concurrently with a six-year term Pyne is serving in the Carroll County Detention Center after pleading guilty to five counts of theft there Nov. 20.

Assistant State's Attorney Warren W. Davis III said Pyne told his victims he was a graduate student writing a thesis about their honors. After gaining their confidence, he would offer to have the medals framed in a glass-enclosed box, Mr. Davis said.

"He had everything so well rehearsed and so thought out that he just lied smoothly through the whole story," said retired Adm. Maurice H. Rindskopf of Severna Park, who lent Pyne his World War II Navy Cross and five other medals. Admiral Rindskopf got the cross and four other medals back.

He said yesterday he was glad he reported Pyne to authorities after learning he was a fraud last April.

"It's difficult to know if one year, five years or 20 years is an appropriate sentence. To me, the important thing is that he is no longer able to do this again," Admiral Rindskopf said.

Investigators found hundreds of stolen medals, certificates and citations at Pyne's home in the 100 block of Federal Ann Court. Many medals were returned to their owners, including the the Medal of Honor -- the nation's highest -- belonging to retired Rear Adm. Eugene B. Fluckey of Annapolis.

But Pyne, a $31,629-a-year budget analyst, also sold some medals, using part of the proceeds to pay for improvements to his Westminster townhouse, authorities said.

Many of the missing medals matched offerings in a catalog for an auction last summer in Houston, prosecutors said. The catalog priced the medals at $2,000 to $3,000.

Mr. Davis said yesterday that he thought the sentence was appropriate given that the crime was "well planned out."

The victims "are genuine American heroes," Mr. Davis said. "It's like Lincoln said, 'Time shall not diminish the glory of their deeds,' and these are the people who breathe life into those words."

Pub Date: 3/30/96

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