Glass Act

Purloined stained glass goes back to its rightful owners, thanks to an antique peddler's conscience

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Something mighty peculiar happened at the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office last month. That's when prominent St. Louis defense attorney Joel Schwartz requested a promise of immunity from prosecution for a client in possession of 150 stained glass windows he believed to be stolen.

And the prosecutor's office granted it.

"It was an unusual situation," says the city's chief warrant officer, Jeannette Graviss. "People don't come to us and say, 'Here, can I give this property back to you?'"

Graviss says she provided a letter to Schwartz stating his client could hand over the windows without fear of prosecution. "We did it to get these windows back to people who lost them."

Schwartz declines to name his client but says the man runs a St. Louis area architecture- and antique-resale shop. When the seller read "The Case of the Stained Glass Bandit" in the April 27 issue of the Riverfront Times, he realized he was hanging onto one or more windows mentioned in the story -- windows worth up to $6,000. Schwartz says his client scrambled to "do what he thinks is right."

So he carted the windows over to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's South Patrol Division.

The man made the drop in early July, and police are planning a look-and-see on August 13 and 14 for anyone who may be missing windows. The owners may recover their property at that time.

Schwartz says his client purchased the windows from several people, including Cortez Tanter, who St. Louis police believe is "the main player" in the glass-filching spree and has burglary and stealing charges pending against him. Lieutenant Michael Caruso says an investigation of other suspects is ongoing.

Notes Schwartz: "[My client] is taking a big loss by turning [the windows] in. He expects and hopes that any windows that go unclaimed will go back to him."

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