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Prep puts AP out front when second man charged in connection with theft of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ ruby slippers

Jerry Hal Saliterman, of Crystal, Minn., is wheeled out of U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn., March 15, 2024, after he made his initial appearance on charges connected to the 2005 theft of a pair of ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” The FBI recovered the slippers in 2018. Another man charged in the case has already pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served because of his ailing health. AP PHOTO / STEVE KARNOWSKI

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Years of source building by Amy Forliti, picked up by reporter Steve Karnowski, put AP ahead in reporting that a second man was charged in the 2005 theft of a pair of ruby slippers worn in “The Wizard of Oz.” AP was the only outlet to get a photo of him, which has been widely circulated.

In 2018, the FBI touted, with much fanfare, the recovery of a pair of ruby slippers that had been stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005. No one was immediately charged in the case. But last week, Karnowski was one of just two reporters in a federal courtroom when the second of two men was formally charged.

Details could not be reported in real time because the court had to redact and unseal documents. When those documents were quietly unsealed days later, AP was ready with a full story — putting AP hours ahead of the competition on a Sunday evening. AP was one of just two media outlets in court on Friday and the story and photo gained significant traction from other outlets.

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