Rare works by Robert Frost are a the center of a grand larceny case in the Upper Valley.
Tim Bernaby used to work at the Listen Center, a thrift store in White River Junction, but then police say the 42-year-old employee ripped the store off. Prosecutors say he stole original papers and cards written by the region's most famous poet--Robert Frost.
"It is sort of a complicated question, who the victim is," said Windsor County State's Attorney, Robert Sand.
In August of 2011, a desk was donated to the Listen Center. Inside the desk were works by Robert Frost. According to court documents, Bernaby pocketed the Frost papers and then sold them for 25-thousand dollars.
"It is also alleged in the affidavit that employees of the Listen Center sign a document that anything and everything that is donated to the Listen Center becomes property of the Listen Center," Sand said.
No one knows Frost better than the folks at Dartmouth College. Rauner Library contains an extensive collection of the poet's works. "He sent off Christmas cards every year. A signed Christmas card may be worth a hundred dollars, or less. But then a manuscript of a famous poem could be worth tens of thousands of dollars," said the library's Jay Satterfield.
The estimated value of the Robert Frost works that were allegedly stolen is around 26-hundred dollars, but historians say original works contain a research value that is worth much more. "Any scholar of Robert Frost and anybody with idol curiosity in fact, can come in, can ask to see a Frost manuscript and work with it here in the reading room," Satterfield said.
At this point, the person who bought the Frost materials is not willing to give them up, and according to prosecutors, if the buyer did not actually know the papers were stolen, he may not be in the wrong in any way. "It would be pretty unusual if the facts revealed that an innocent purchaser came into possession of those items to then charge that person of possession of stolen property," Robert Sand said.
That person who donated the desk did not intend to donate the papers. He lives in Hanover and wants those papers back.
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