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Kansas man facing nearly 20 years in jail for role in stealing of Jackie Robinson statue

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A Kansas man is facing over 19 years for his involvement in the stealing of a statue of Jackie Robinson from a local park in Wichita.

Ricky Alderete, 45, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, aggravated criminal damage to property, interference with law enforcement, criminal damage to property, theft, making a false writing and identity theft.

The statue was snatched from McAdams Park in January and was later “dismantled and burned,” according to authorities.

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(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Wichita Fire Department was called to a trash can fire at Garvey Park around 8:30 a.m. on January 30, where they discovered remnants of the stolen statue.

Police noted that evidence did not suggest that the crime had been “hate-motivated.” The suspect instead seemed to intend to sell the metal for scrap. Authorities added that more arrests would likely be made in the future.

The statue had an estimated value of $75,000.

“When you try to take something from this community, it won’t tolerate it,” Wichita police Lieutenant Aaron Moses said.

The statue was cut from its base, leaving only bronze replicas of the legendary baseball player’s cleats behind. Robinson broke the major league’s color barrier when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The franchise later moved to California in 1957, where it continues its history as the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Site of Jackie Robinson statue in Kansas

FILE – Police announced Tuesday, February 13, the arrest of a man in the theft of the Jackie Robinson statue, which later was found dismantled and burned.  (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File)

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Alderete will be sentenced on July 1. The maximum punishment is 229 months (19 years and one month).

Alderte was taken into custody in February due to his connection to an unrelated case.

A new statue is expected to be installed in August with the help of Major League Baseball and its ballclubs. Over $300,000 was donated to replace the statue.

Jackie Robinson pavilion in Kansas

A group of people gathered at the Jackie Robinson pavilion at McAdams Park in Wichita, Kansas, on Saturday, January 27, 2024.  (Jaime Green/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File)

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In the majors, Robinson hit .313, won an MVP in 1949 and was named an All-Star six times. He also was a Negro League All-Star, giving him seven all-star nods in professional baseball.

Robinson died in 1972 at the age of 53, and it is widely thought that the stress he endured throughout his playing days contributed to an early death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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