Antiques dealer accused of stealing Latter-day Saint documents arrested

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PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – The man accused of stealing 19th century Latter-day Saint documents and selling them has been arrested by Brigham Young University Police. Kevin Mark Ronald Schuwer is behind bars in the Utah County jail and has been charged with seven counts of theft. 

Schuwer, 29, is also accused of stealing historical items from the Utah State University library on Oct. 19, as well as taking historical items from Brigham Young University’s library. He is also accused of stealing a rare picture of Porter Rockwell from the Daughters of the Pioneers Museum in Salt Lake City and selling it to a collector for $11,500, according to a probable cause statement. 

Kevin Schuwer, 29, is accused of stealing and reselling an old photo of Orson F. Whitney, which police say he swiped from the USU library. Schuwer is also being sued for more than half a million dollars by a rare items collector. 

Schuwer confessed to entering the Special Collections Room at the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU and swapping a fake photo of Porter Rockwell for an original, as well as taking six rare books with the intention of selling them. 

According to court documents, Schuwer will appear before a Cache County judge Monday to answer for his alleged crimes in Logan. 

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LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 News) – A young antiques dealer stands accused of stealing rare photos from at least two universities, including Utah State and Brigham Young University.

Court documents allege Kevin Mark Ronald Schuwer, 29, of Orem, was charged Monday with burglary and theft for allegedly stealing a rare signed photo of Latter-day Saint apostle Orson F. Whitney from the Utah State University library. Investigators in Logan said both are third degree felonies.

The photograph dates back to 1873 and is signed ““Yours Truly O.F. Whitney.”

Court documents show Schuwer was caught on surveillance video looking at the photograph on Oct. 19, taking it out of its protective envelope, then pretending to put it back. Instead, court documents claim he slipped it into his laptop bag. Schuwer is also accused of trying to sell the photograph to two individuals. One of the buyer’s researched the photo and realized it should not have been in Schuwer’s possession because it belonged to the Utah State Historical Society. He then refunded that victim, the documents show, and resold the photograph to another buyer, who purchased it for $1500. University police contacted that victim in California, who shipped the photo back to police.

A warrant for Schuwer’s arrest was issued Tuesday evening, but as of Wednesday he had still not been booked into the Cache County Jail.  

Court documents also allege Schuwer, a former BYU student, stole a picture of Porter Rockwell, Joseph Smith’s bodyguard, from Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library and resold it for $2,000 to a buyer in Utah County. 

Schuwer was arrested by BYU Police. A search warrant claims on Schuwer’s iPad were found 38,000 images, along with messages between Schuwer and buyers. 

Court documents claim Schuwer was using the images to reproduce fake duplicates of vintage photos. 

Those rare photographs, along with other historical documents, have investigators and collector’s of rare items eager to stop Schuwer. The rare item collector community was warned about Schuwer by local collectors Ryan Roos and Brad Kramer, who co-own Writ and Vision Rare Books in Provo. 

Roos had long-predicted that a forger comparable to Mark Hofmann, who killed two people in 1985 to cover up his forgery of Mormon artifacts, would emerge. Roos and Kramer said they had a bad feeling about Schuwer when he tried to sell them vintage photographs. Kramer described Schuwer as far too eager to sell, with a sort of “puppy-dog” personality, that he knew would win over some collectors. 

“If Kevin seemed like a super confident alpha-type, people would have been much more suspicious of him,” said Kramer. “Some of the stuff that he was pushing was pretty impressive,” Kramer conceded. 

Schuwer did succeed in fooling other collectors, court documents show. 

Schuwer is also being sued for $539,000 by R. Tracy Rawle, who claims Schuwer sold them a counterfeit 1835 LDS hymnal, as well as a countereit 1849 LDS gold coin for $60,000. The lawsuit also alleges Schuwer sold the plaintiff a 1614 King James Bible worth $105,000 and an 1837 Book of Mormon tha was reportedly owned by LDS apostle James E. Talmage. He was paid $75,000 for that item. Schuwer then pocketed the money and did not pay the person who sold him the item, the lawsuit alleges. 

The lawsuit also said Schuwer sold the plaintiff a Doctrine and Covenants from 1835 that he purported to have belonged to Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith. That was sold for $129,000, but the defendant failed to pay any of the value received to the original owner. Schuwer also allegedly sold the plaintiff’s 1830 Book of Mormon for $105,000, but did not pay the plaintiff any of when it was sold again. 

A judgment against Schuwer ordered him to pay the plaintiff $539,000. 

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