Former cleaning woman charged federally with theft of Ben Franklin bust

Andrea Lawton, a former cleaning woman accused of stealing a $3 million Ben Franklin bust from her former employer, has now been charged by federal prosecutors with interstate transportation of stolen property and concealing stolen property.

Lawton, 46, already faces charges in Lower Merion related to the alleged Aug. 24 theft from a Bryn Mawr home. Lawton allegedly fled to Mobile, Ala., with the treasured item the day after police put out a warrant for her arrest and was apprehended Sept. 21 after she got off a Greyhound bus in Elkton, Md.

Lawton told police she had an accomplice in the theft, and that she stole the item to get back at her former employer who had fired her, according to court documents. The bust was recovered, but was cracked and needs repair.

In the federal indictment, authorities claim Lawton made arrangements to sell the collectible, and communicated with someone in Pennsylvania who purchased her bus ticket. She then traveled to Maryland to complete the sale but was intercepted by authorities, according to the indictment.

If convicted of the federal charges, Lawton faces up to 20 years in prison. The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, along with the FBI.