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Man pleads guilty in theft of Palmer green jacket, other memorabilia from Augusta

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CHICAGO (AP) — A former warehouse assistant for the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia pleaded guilty on Wednesday to transporting millions of dollars' worth of stolen Masters tournament memorabilia and historic items, including one of Arnold Palmer's iconic green jackets.

Richard Globensky, of Georgia, entered the plea in federal court in Chicago. He was charged with one count of transporting goods knowing they had been stolen.

“I plead guilty,” Globensky told the judge.

According to federal prosecutors, the 39-year-old took items from the warehouse for sellers in Florida, who then sold them online at a significant markup. Globensky was paid through a limited liability company set up in his wife’s name, among other ways. The scheme lasted for more than a decade and earned him more than $5 million.

As part of a plea deal, Globensky must write a $1.5 million cashier’s check to the government within days. He remains free on bond and faces a maximum 10-year prison term when he's sentenced Oct. 29, but will likely get closer to two years in prison under federal guidelines.

The items, which were stolen between 2009 and 2022, included such historic memorabilia as green jackets and tickets to Masters tournaments in the 1930s, as well as T-shirts, mugs and chairs, according to prosecutors. Among the stolen iconic green jackets were those won by Palmer, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.

Globensky, who had worked at the warehouse since 2007, would secretly photograph items and send them to a Florida-based seller, identified in court documents only as Individual A, prosecutors said. Globensky would then sneak out items that they were interested in, taking small quantities to avoid the risk of Augusta National's auditing practices, according to court documents. Items were hidden in an offsite storage facility and shipped.

The total loss to Augusta National was more than $3 million, according to prosecutors. A representative for Augusta National did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Globensky declined to comment to reporters after the hearing. His attorney, Thomas Church, told reporters the case was being tried in Chicago because some of the stolen goods were recovered in the area. Church declined further comment because of pending investigations.

No one else has been charged in the case, but prosecutors said Globensky is cooperating in the ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors in April charged Globensky with transporting stolen tournament merchandise and memorabilia across state lines to Florida. But the court records didn’t say what was taken from the famous golf club.

Augusta National hosts the annual Masters golf tournament, which Scottie Scheffler won last month.

Palmer, who died in 2016 at age 87, won four green jackets. He’s often credited with introducing golf to the masses and hit the ceremonial tee shot every year at the Masters for years after he stopped playing in the tournament in 2004.

Getting a ticket to the Masters also gives fans the chance to buy exclusive merchandise that’s not officially sold online. But the green jackets are particularly guarded by the Georgia company that owns Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters golf tournament.

The company sued in 2017 to stop a golf memorabilia company from auctioning off a champion’s green jacket and other items it said were never supposed to leave the club’s grounds.

Augusta National Inc. filed the federal lawsuit against the Florida-based auction company seeking to stop it from selling a champion’s green jacket and two member green jackets, as well as silverware and a belt buckle bearing Augusta National’s map and flag logo.

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Associated Press reporter Kathleen Foody contributed to this report.