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Police: Cleaning woman admits taking $3M bust out of anger

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 8:36 p.m.

BRYN MAWR — A cleaning woman told investigators she stole a $3 million bust of Benjamin Franklin from a suburban Philadelphia home because she had been fired and was angry at her boss.

Lower Merion Township police released details of an interview with Andrea Lawton, 46, during her preliminary hearing on Thursday. They said she had an accomplice in the Aug. 24 theft from the Bryn Mawr home.

According to police, Lawton said she stole the plaster bust because she was told it was valuable and wanted to get her boss fired but she did not know how valuable until seeing news reports of the theft. She allegedly fled with the bust to a relative's home in Alabama before being arrested Sept. 21 as she got off a Greyhound bus in Elkton, Md.

The bust was recovered but was cracked and will need restoration.

Part of the bust's journey included an overnight stay wrapped in a sheet inside a trash bin in West Philadelphia, police said.

Lawton said she waited in her car while the accomplice, whom she has refused to identify, broke into the home of lawyer George D'Angelo by kicking out an air conditioner. She said the two fled as a car pulled into the driveway, but not before the car's occupants recognized her.

Also stolen during the burglary was a shadowbox with a picture of composer Victor Herbert and his baton, valued at $80,000. Lawton told police she didn't know about its theft until informed by investigators.

Lawton was ordered to stand trial on burglary, theft and other charges and is being held on $1 million bail. Neither she nor her court-appointed attorney, Willis Watson, would comment after the hearing.

In a separate federal case in Philadelphia, Lawton has been charged with illegally transporting a stolen object across state lines.

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