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Kansas man pleads guilty to helping steal Jackie Robinson statue

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(WICHITA, Kan.) — A man accused of helping steal and damage the bronze statue of baseball legend Jackie Robinson in Wichita, Kansas, pleaded guilty to the charges against him on Thursday, according to Sedgwick County District Court.

Ricky Alderete, 45, from Wichita, admitted to helping steal the statue from Jackie Robinson Pavilion in McAdams Park in January of this year and placing it in a pickup truck.

Alderete was among the suspects who authorities say cut off the statue at the ankles, leaving behind only Robinson’s feet. At the time, officials estimated the damage to be around $75,000.

Surveillance video captured at least three individuals entering Jackie Robinson Pavilion around midnight on Jan. 25, removing and departing with the statue, authorities previously said.

The statue was discovered dismantled and burned in a trash can fire on Jan. 30 in Garvey Park, authorities said.

On Thursday, Alderete pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, aggravated criminal damage to property, interference with law enforcement, criminal damage to property, theft, making a false writing, and identity theft, according to a press release from prosecutors.

District Judge Tyler Roush told Alderete the maximum sentence is 229 months, or over 19 years, in prison and six months in jail. Judge Roush also said he could order Alderete to pay $41,500 to League 42.

The statue was crafted by artist John Parsons and donated to the community by League 42, a nonprofit named after Robinson’s number with the Brooklyn Dodgers that aims to introduce baseball to the youth of Wichita.

Alderete is scheduled to be sentenced on July 1.

Robinson is known for being the first baseball player to break the color barrier in the modern era of Major League Baseball. He played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro leagues and the minor league Montreal Royals before being signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

The signing signaled the end of segregated baseball and led to other Black players joining the major leagues. During his time with the Dodgers, Robinson won Rookie of the Year in 1947, was named National League MVP in 1949, was a six-time All-Star and won the World Series in 1955.

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