Nassau County detectives said Anthony Lombardo, 49, of East Lexington...

Nassau County detectives said Anthony Lombardo, 49, of East Lexington Avenue, Oceanside, a self-employed dealer and appraiser of coins, sold three rare coins without the owner's permission. (April 13, 2010) Credit: NCPD

A coin dealer from Oceanside faces a grand larceny charge after he took three rare coins he had been given for appraisal and cleaning and sold them without permission, pocketing the profits, police said.

It was hardly loose change.

Police said one of the coins, a pewter $1 piece based on a design suggested by Benjamin Franklin, was worth $75,000.

Another, a $50 gold piece from 1851, was valued at more than $50,000, police said.

None of the three coins have been recovered.

Nassau police identified the suspect, described as "a self-employed dealer/appraiser of coins," as Anthony Lombardo, 49, of East Lexington Avenue, Oceanside.

Police said Lombardo was arrested Tuesday at 2:01 p.m. in Long Beach. He was charged with second-degree grand larceny and is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday in First District Court, Hempstead.

The owner of the coins, whose identity has not been released, gave Lombardo the coins for appraisal and cleaning, police said.

It was not immediately clear how much money Lombardo received for the sale.

The coins included a 2009 gold piece; an 1851 $50 Humbert gold coin appraisers have called an "important" example of California Gold Rush history; and a rare 1776 pewter Continental dollar believed to have been struck in a makeshift private mint in Freehold, N.J., not long after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Records indicate some copies of the pewter dollar have sold for more than $180,000.

Police said the copy sold by Lombardo was worth $75,000.

One online site described the coin as being "heavily influenced by sketches submitted by Benjamin Franklin."

The front face of the coin reads "CONTINENTAL CURRENCY 1776" encircling the outer edge. Then, in the interior, is a rendition of the sun shining down from a sundial over the inscription "FUGIO," Latin for "I flee" or "fly." The combination of the drawing and word is said to mean, literally, "Time Flies," as suggested by Franklin. At the very center of the front face is the phrase: "Mind Your Business." The back face of the coin has 13 interlocked rings, encircling the outer edge - each, bearing the name of one of the fledgling states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York.

Inside the rings is the inscription: "We Are One."

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