A man accused of stealing a drawing by Pablo Picasso from a gallery near San Francisco’s Union Square in July is expected to plead guilty to charges in the case today, his defense attorney said.
Mark Lugo, 30, of Hoboken, N.J., is accused of walking into the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary St. near Union Square on July 5, taking a pencil-on-paper drawing titled “Tete de Femme” valued at more than $250,000 and fleeing in a waiting taxicab, police and prosecutors said.
Lugo was arrested the following day after police used surveillance video footage and eyewitness accounts to track him to a hotel in San Francisco, then to an apartment in Napa where he was staying with friends.
The drawing was in good condition when it was found, but had been taken out of its frame. It appeared Lugo was planning on having it shipped somewhere, police said.
Lugo pleaded not guilty later in July to grand theft and second-degree burglary charges, but his defense attorney Douglas Horngrad said today that his client is expected to plead guilty in the case as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.
Horngrad said because of the state’s new law realigning certain nonviolent offenders, he expects that after Lugo is sentenced sometime in the next month or so, he will be released with credit for time served without ever going to a state prison.
Along with the Picasso drawing theft in San Francisco, Lugo is also facing charges in New York after a raid of his Hoboken apartment in July led to the discovery of other stolen artwork, including another Picasso piece from a Manhattan hotel.
Horngrad said after being released, Lugo plans on going back to New York to face the pending charges there.
District Attorney George Gascon plans to hold a news conference following the 1:30 p.m. court hearing at the San Francisco Hall of Justice.
Rowland Weinstein from the art gallery is expected to attend the news conference, as well as Nick Bovis, the owner of Lefty O’Doul’s, the restaurant nearby whose surveillance footage helped identify Lugo as the thief.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News