Less than a month after her Durango co-conspirator was sentenced to four years probation, former Pennsylvania art gallery employee Bree DeStephano was sentenced Thursday to nine to 23 months in prison, plus a consecutive 10 years probation for stealing and selling $628,000 worth of photographic prints from award-winning photographer Steve McCurry.
DeStephano is due to report to York County Prison in Pennsylvania on June 15. She received the prison sentence, which has a minimum and maximum based on Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines, for the felony theft charge, and received five months of probation each for felony charges of conspiracy and criminal use of a communications facility.
She will be allowed out of prison to work and return at nights and on weekends, provided she follows the facility’s rules.
Michael Noone, first assistant district attorney in Chester County, said DeStephano will serve her entire sentence with the possibility of receiving “good time,” which means docking a few days per month off the sentence for good behavior.
“This defendant engaged in a calculated, systemic theft over a period of years from her trusted employer,” Noone said. “We appreciate that the court recognized the seriousness of her crimes, and McCurry Studios and Steve McCurry have put a great deal of work into assuring their customers and addressing the fallout of the criminal conduct.”
DeStephano worked for Steve McCurry Studios in Chester County, Pennsylvania. As the manager of fine art print sales at the time, she had access to McCurry’s work, including his illustrious photo of “Afghan Girl,” which appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic.
The thefts occurred between May 2012 and November 2013.
DeStephano would manipulate company records and request replacements of prints she claimed where damaged in shipping. She would then send stolen prints to Brandon Donahue, the former manager of Open Shutter Gallery in Durango. Unbeknownst to the gallery owner, Donahue would sell the prints, return proceeds by check to DeStephano, and the two would split the profit.
It appears the pair had a professional relationship through work, but by communicating through social media and texts, eventually hatched the scheme to steal the prints.
DeStephano claimed $34,000 for the art heists.
DeStephano’s actions were discovered when McCurry’s sister and president of McCurry Studios, Bonnie V’Soske, noticed by pulling the serial number that the size of a print requested by DeStephano did not match the size the customer ordered.
DeStephano apologized for her actions in court Thursday, Noone said. She was ordered to pay $214,700 in damages to ImagineAsia, a charity McCurry founded.
Donahue cooperated with law enforcement and was sentenced in May to four years probation with the chance to have his record cleared later for his role in stealing and selling the prints. He pleaded guilty to felony theft and misdemeanor theft and was ordered to pay $58,164 in restitution.