The quiet Frenchman had kept a low profile since his move last summer into a Cooper City, Fla., community.
Unbeknown to his suburban neighbors, say federal prosecutors, 55-year-old Bernard Jean Ternus was a career criminal who spent his time jetting from Miami to Barcelona and Marseilles, negotiating multimillion-dollar black market art sales.
All the while, U.S. and French investigators were working undercover to bring him to justice.
On Thursday, Ternus pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to trying to sell four paintings stolen last year in a brazen museum heist in the French Riviera. The charges include conspiracy to sell stolen artwork and visa fraud.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 18 and faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
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