A self-proclaimed Latter-day Saint antiquities dealer pleaded guilty last week to stealing eight books and a historic picture from the Brigham Young University library.
Investigators discovered Orem resident Kevin Mark Ronald Schuwer visited the Harold B. Lee Library in Provo between September and November 2018, according to court documents.
During those visits, he checked out eight books valued at $300 each from the general stacks of the libaray. A police report stated he initially told officers he only checked out six books.
Court documents show Schuwer stole the books by “removing the barcodes on them, placing the barcode into another book, and then returning the errantly coded book to the library.”
The 29-year-old also took a historic picture of Porter Rockwell from the Special Collections, according to a police search warrant.
“Schuwer removed an original photo of Porter Rockwell from its protective sleeve and replaced it with a fake copy of the same picture,” the search warrant states.
He then sold the photo and three of the library books to a collector in Utah County for $3,000. The collector then sold two of the books to another buyer, according to court documents.
“These books contained markings showing they were BYU property,” investigators reported. The three books and picture were later returned to the university.
Authorities recovered three more books at Schuwer’s residence, but two of the “rare LDS Church books” that were checked out are still missing.
BYU police officers arrested Schuwer in October 2018 at his home in Orem. Investigators found an iPad and iPhone with more than 38,000 images and messages between Schuwer and various buyers.
Authorities reported Schuwer used the devices to create fake reproductions of vintage photographs and then steal and sell the originals to collectors across the country.
Schuwer pleaded guilty on Jan. 16 to two counts of wrongful appropriation, both third-degree felonies. The two charges each carry a zero- to five-year prison sentence.
The charges were amended from third-degree felonies of theft and theft by deception. One count of pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony, was dismissed.
He is facing another theft case in 1st District Court for reportedly stealing a valuable photograph from the Utah State University Special Collections and Archives.
According to court documents, Schuwer reportedly took a portrait of Orson F. Whitney, an early apostle with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Police believe the picture is worth $2,000 to $3,000.
Schuwer then reportedly sold the picture and four other historical church-related photos for $1,500 to a buyer in California. Investigators contacted the buyer who shipped the portrait back to the USU Police.
The California buyer also reported Schuwer had allegedly also sold him a rare picture of Porter Rockwell, an important historical figure in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for $11,500, according to an unsealed search warrant from the BYU University Police Department.
“The Porter Rockwell picture belongs to the Daughters of the Pioneers Museum in Salt Lake City, which was stolen out of a display frame and replaced with a fake,” the search warrant states.
In a civil lawsuit filed in 4th District Court in Provo, a judge ordered Schuwer on Nov. 1 to pay $694,701 for selling fake church artifacts to a separate California buyer.
Among the fake artifacts were a counterfeit 1835 church hymnal, a counterfeit 1849 church gold coin and a 1614 King James Bible rumored to be owned by King James and 1835 scriptures alleged to be owned by Emma Smith, the first wife of the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Joseph Smith.
Court documents state Schuwer resold the items without paying the original sellers or owners.