A former Watertown lawyer was convicted yesterday of possessing six Impressionist paintings that he knew were stolen in what is believed to be the largest private art theft in Massachusetts history.
After deliberating about three hours, a US District Court jury in Boston found Robert M. Mardirosian guilty of taking the six paintings, which had allegedly been stolen by one of his clients from a house in the Berkshires in 1978, and storing them in Europe.
Mardirosian, 74, who faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison, sat impassively as each of the 12 jurors individually agreed with the verdict in response to a defense request to poll the jury.
“I expected it,” the silver-haired, mustachioed defendant told a reporter outside the courtroom afterward. But, he added, “I think we’ve got a good appeal.”
Assistant US Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell asked US Chief District Judge Mark L. Wolf to immediately detain Mardirosian, who has been on home confinement in East Falmouth and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 18. Mitchell said Mardirosian poses a risk of flight because he faces a potentially long sentence.
Brian Fitzsimmons, one of Mardirosian’s lawyers, countered that Mardirosian voluntarily returned to the United States from France in February 2007 to surrender to authorities and has never missed a court date. He also said his client has a good chance of getting his conviction overturned on appeal.
Wolf scheduled a hearing for today at 10 a.m. to hear further arguments after securing a promise from Mardirosian to return to court.