NEW YORK (CBS/AP) Art fraud Thomas A. Doyle III is not fooling anyone, including the FBI, with his latest alleged scheme to rip off a Japanese collector whom he tricked into thinking they were partners in a $1.1 million purchase of a missing painting.
The 54-year-old con man was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in the dealings over a century-and-a-half old painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot entitled "Portrait of a Girl."
Apparently, the convicted scam artist had arranged for the Japanese art collector to pay $880,000 for an 80 percent ownership of a painting, while Doyle claimed he was going to cover the remaining balance of $220,000.
In reality, Doyle had already paid $775,000 for "Portrait of a Girl" and pocketed an extra $105,000 by allegedly duping his investor.
According to The New York Post, the co-owners were going to have the painting kept in a New Jersey storage facility where prospective buyers could come and place bids, but on July 20 Doyle arranged for it to be illegally removed from the facility by another ex-con named James Carl Haggerty.
Conveniently, Haggerty claims to have "lost" the painting in a drunken stupor.
The case of the missing painting was brought to the FBI's attention after Doyle's girlfriend Kristyn Trudgeon filed a lawsuit against Haggerty alleging that she was a victim of fraud in the disappearance of the painting which is still missing in action.
Upon reviewing the case, the FBI determined that Doyle had misrepresented the price of the painting to the investor and decided to press charges.
Doyle's doting lawyer Kevin Keating claims his client is not only innocent, but a victim.
"This appears to be a squeeze play designed to get at the location of the painting. The problem is they're going after the wrong guy. He doesn't have it. He doesn't know where it is," Keating said.
No one knows who to blame or believe...Haggerty or Doyle? Both are ex-cons with a reputation for fraud and a habit of lying.
If Doyle is convicted on mail fraud and wire fraud charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison.