Dying ‘Wizard of Oz’ ruby slippers thief gets no jail time

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A dying 76-year-old reformed mobster who stole the ruby red slippers Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz” from a Minnesota museum received no prison time at his sentencing hearing on Monday.

Terry Jon Martin, 76, stole Dorothy’s slippers from the 1939 film from a museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in 2005 after an “old mob associate” tempted him with “one last score,” his lawyer wrote in a final letter to the court ahead of his sentencing.

As the judge handed down the sentence in court, Martin showed little emotion and was unable to rise from his chair as the judge adjourned the hearing.

The former mobster’s lawyers and federal prosecutors had both recommended the judge sentence him to time served due to his health. He is housebound in hospice care and is expected to die within six months. He requires constant oxygen therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.


Terry Martin outside court

Terry Jon Martin was sentenced Monday to no jail time after the former mobster’s lawyers and federal prosecutors both recommended the judge sentence him to time served due to his health. (Dan Kraker/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

At the time of the theft, Martin did not realize the slippers were not affixed with real rubies. He had the slippers in his possession for less than 48 hours before handing them over to the unnamed associate and said he “never wanted to see them again,” according to his lawyer’s memo.

Judy Garland's red slippers

Ruby slippers once worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” are displayed at a news conference on Sept. 4, 2018, at the FBI office in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen)

The FBI recovered the shoes, one of just four remaining pairs of the American film memorabilia, in 2018 when someone else tried to claim a reward. Martin was not charged with stealing them until last year. 

The Wizard of Oz slippers at a museum

Rhys Thomas, author of “The Ruby Slippers of Oz” takes a photo of a pair of ruby slippers once worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz”, Sept. 4, 2018, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP, File)

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He entered a guilty plea in October and admitted to smashing the glass of the museum door and display case with a hammer to take the slippers.

Fox News’ Lauryn Overhultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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