Husband of missing woman allegedly stole $100K in coins

Lewis Bennett husband of Delray Beach woman missing at sea arrested by the FBI

Lewis Bennett husband of Delray Beach woman missing at sea arrested by the FBI

A man who reported his new wife missing at sea after they went sailing on their honeymoon was arrested on charges that he stole as much as $100,000 in coins several years prior, while he was a first mate on a Caribbean ship, The Palm Beach Post reported.

Bennett abandoned his sinking 37-foot catamaran near the Bahamas in May.

While Bennett was a crew member on the St. Maarten ship Kitty R in May 2016, 617 gold and silver collectible coins were reported missing.

Among Bennett's belongings in the raft were 225 coins with a value of about £3,240, the complaint said.

According to a criminal complaint, law enforcement became aware of coins that had been stolen from a sailing vessel named "KITTY R" that was located in St. Maarten in May 2016.

Bennett, 38, asked Coast Guard officials for a "letter of presumed death" within a day of the search being called off, according to Palm Beach County court records.

The Coast Guard searched the area for his wife for ten days but she was never found. A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m.at the Key West federal courthouse, and an arraignment is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 11, at 2 p.m.in Key West.

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The Coast Guard rescued Bennett hours later and launched a search for Hellmann which was suspended after a few days with no sign of the new mother.

He told investigators that when he went above deck, he could not find his wife and the boat started taking on water.

Authorities noticed that he put a suitcase and two backpacks on a life raft when the Coast Guard retrieved him, but only took one backpack with him when pulled off the raft by a Coast Guard swimmer who "noticed that his backpack was unusually heavy", according to the complaint.

Bennett also dialed the U.S. Coast Guard reporting he was in distress in the same general location around the same time.

The owner of the boat told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Bennett had been working onboard KITTY R as a crewmember at the time of the theft.

Among his personal items were 9 plastic tubes wrapped in clear tape containing what appeared to be silver coins. He then agreed to turn over the coins, which were still in evidence bags.

The FBI and U.S. Coast Guard went to Bennett's Delray Beach apartment on June 16 and found more gold coins - 162 of them - in a small case, hidden in a pair of boat shoes, the affidavit said.

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