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Court documents: Latter-day Saint antiques dealer sold fake items, stole rare photos

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Posted - Nov 25th, 2018 @ 1:16pm

PROVO — A man who was recently ordered to pay nearly $700,000 for selling fake Latter-day Saint artifacts is also being investigated for stealing rare photos from the BYU library, according to court documents.

According to a newly unsealed search warrant, Kevin Schuwer, 29, of Lehi, went to the Harold B. Lee Library on the campus of Brigham Young University in October and requested to see photos in the Special Collections room.

"While looking at the photos, Schuwer removed an original photo of Porter Rockwell from its protective sleeve and replaced it with a fake copy of the same picture. Schuwer then sold the original photo to a collector in Utah County for $2,000," the warrant states.

That same buyer told police he also purchased "three rare LDS Church books" from Schuwer that all had "markings showing they were BYU property," according to the warrant served by BYU police.

Investigators also learned that Utah State University was "missing a rare photo of Orson F. Whitney that disappeared after Kevin Schuwer visited their library. This picture was sold online to a collector in California by Kevin Schuwer. The same collector reported he also purchased a rare picture of Porter Rockwell for $11,500 from Kevin Schuwer. 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 warrant states.

Schuwer was arrested on Oct. 30, the warrant states. He told police he took the Rockwell picture as well as "six rare books" that he intended to sell, according to the warrant.

During a search of Schuwer's iPhone and iPad, investigators found 38,000 images, the warrant states.

"Kevin Schuwer used his iPad and iPhone extensively and exclusively to sell vintage items on the internet to collectors around the country. Some of these sales have been stolen property," the warrant states. "Kevin Schuwer was also manufacturing digital reproductions of photographs that he used to replace when stealing the originals. It is believed Kevin Schuwer was using these devices to reproduce copies of vintage photos."

Also on Oct. 30, a "judgment by confession" was entered against Schuwer in 4th District Court. Schuwer was ordered to pay Tracy Rawle $694,701.92, according to the judgment.

According to court documents, Schuwer sold Rawle several fake items in 2017, including "a counterfeit 1835 LDS Church hymnal" for $65,000, and a counterfeit 1849 Mormon gold coin for $60,000.

Court records also state that Schuwer facilitated the sale of other rare items, but pocketed the money rather than paying the owner of the artifacts. Those sales included "a 1614 King James Bible, previously owned by King James," for $105,000, an "1837 Book of Mormon that was claimed to have been previously owned by James Talmage," and an "1835 LDS Doctrine & Covenants that was represented by defendant to have been previously owned by Emma Smith."

Schuwer also sold Rawle's "1830 Book of Mormon for the sum of $105,000," but never gave Rawle the money, claiming he left the check at his parent's house in Canada, the judgment states.

According to court records, by making a judgment of confession, "the defendant is confessing to the conduct and to the judgment in an effort to pay the plaintiff the amount wrongfully obtained by him from plaintiff, and to avoid the costs of litigation and likely punitive damage claims."

Pat Reavy

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