Kansas man pleads guilty to stealing Jackie Robinson statue

A man accused of helping steal a statue of baseball player Jackie Robinson from a Kansas park has pleaded guilty.

Ricky Alderete, 45, of Wichita, told the court he helped sweep the statue out of the park and load it onto a truck.

The bronze statue was cut off at the ankles before burglars took it away in January.

Its theft sparked outrage from community members, who later raised funds to replace it.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Alderete faces multiple charges, including aggravated burglary, aggravated damage to property and theft.

He pleaded guilty to the charge Thursday in Sedgwick County District Court in Wichita, Kansas.

District Judge Tyler Roush told Mr. Alderete that he faces more than 19 years in prison.

He also faces a $41,500 (£33,126) fine to be paid to League 42, the youth baseball league that plays at McAdams Park, where the statue was stolen. The league is named after Robinson’s jersey number.

Surveillance video of the theft shows at least two people coming to the park around midnight and stealing the statue, police said earlier.

Alderete is the first to be arrested. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 1.

Robinson, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, made history as the first black player in the MLB and paved the way for generations of African-American ballplayers.

Authorities previously said there was no evidence the statue’s theft was a hate crime. Instead, the creators wanted to make money.

“We believe the motive behind this theft was the economic benefit of getting rid of base metal,” police Lt. Aaron Moses said in February.

Officials also said they believe the statue is no longer intact and has been vandalized by burglars and should be completely replaced.

Since it was stolen, members of the community have raised nearly $200,000 (£159,650) through an online fundraiser, and Major League Baseball (MLB), the North American baseball league, has since offered to replace it.

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