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Union Square Picasso Thief Pleads Guilty

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Missing Picasso, suspect

Security camera image from Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant shows man believed to have taken a Picasso drawing (inset) from Weinstein Gallery on 383 Geary St. in San Francisco, July 5, 2011. (Lefty O’Doul’s)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The man accused of brazenly snatching a drawing by Pablo Picasso from an art gallery near San Francisco’s Union Square pleaded guilty to grand theft during a court hearing on Thursday as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Mark Lugo, 30, of Hoboken, N.J., is expected to be sentenced on Nov. 21 to 16 months in prison. That means he would likely be released at the time of sentencing, factoring in time already served, said defense attorney Douglas Horngrad.

Upon his release, Lugo will then go to New York to face charges there in at least seven other art gallery thefts.

Here in San Francisco, Lugo walked into the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary Street on July 5, took a pencil-on-paper drawing titled “Tete de Femme” (Head of a Woman) valued at more than $250,000 and fled in a waiting taxicab, police and prosecutors said.

Lugo was arrested the following day after police used surveillance video footage from nearby Lefty O’Doul’s restaurant 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.

A raid of his Hoboken apartment in July, following his arrest in San Francisco, led to the discovery of other stolen artwork, including another Picasso piece from a Manhattan hotel.

(Copyright 2011 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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