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Gold bar thief sentenced

A house painter was sentenced Nov. 28 to six months in jail for stealing a four-pound gold bar from NBA agent Dwight Manley?s home and selling it to a coin dealer.

An Orange County Superior Court judge also sentenced the man, Lawrence Wach, to three years of probation after Wach pleaded guilty to burglary, grand theft and petty theft of a pawn broker.

Wach was also ordered to have no contact with Manley or the dealer who bought the bar in exchange for $9,500 and 40 ounces of gold.

Defense attorney Gary Pohlson said Wach, who had some financial troubles, has been repaying the dealer. The gold bar has since been returned to Manley.

The bar, made during the California Gold Rush, was valued at about $500,000 and was stolen from Manley?s home nearly a year ago while Wach was working there.

It was among three tons of gold and minted coins recovered from the S.S. Central America, which sank off the North Carolina coast during a hurricane in 1857.

Manley, a land developer and sports agent who has been active in numismatics for years, owns eight of the gold bars. He had been storing them in a garage and intended to move them to a bank vault in January when he noticed one was missing.

Investigators later found the bar at a Rancho Santa Margarita coin dealership.

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