Three young men pleaded guilty Friday morning in Baltimore Circuit Court to stealing Cal Ripken Jr.'s aluminum No. 8 sculpture from in front of Camden Yards in September and paid the Orioles $7,618 to cover the cost of repairs. A fourth man pleaded guilty in the case earlier this week.
The brief court appearances by Gary Parker, 20, Matthew Rayner, 20, and Patrick Reynolds, 18, put an end to a case involving the theft of a statue honoring one of the city's most celebrated sports figures. The theft prompted Baltimore's police commissioner to say on television, "Don't come to Baltimore to be a moron."
The four admitted that they kicked down the 3 1/2 -foot sculpture at the entrance of Camden Yards on Eutaw Street the night of Sept. 8, threw it into the back of a pickup truck and drove it through the city. They were arrested after getting into an argument near Patterson Park, and police who responded found the broken sculpture in the back of the truck.
All pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft of over $500 and were sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation and community service. Two of the men have already completed 35 hours of service for the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks. If they complete the sentencing terms, their criminal records will be wiped clean.
None of the suspects made statements in court other than to answer questions from their attorneys and a clerk.
"I trust all of you understand the foolishness of what you did and you will learn from it," Circuit Judge Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill said from the bench.
Before Friday's hearing, attorneys for the three men handed an Orioles representative a check to pay for the damage. On Wednesday, Jason Stoneburner, 19, pleaded guilty to theft in District Court and received the same sentence. Attorneys said he could not afford to pay his share of the repair costs, $1,904.50, but he has agreed to reimburse his friends.
"When you and I were young, this was a prank. We're living in different times now," Reynolds' attorney, John Grason Turnbull III, said after the hearing.
He said he told his client: "You're lucky you didn't take the number 33 [of former Oriole Eddie Murray]. It would've been twice as expensive."