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    Suspect: I helped steal moon rocks

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 21, 2002

    TAMPA -- One of the four suspects in the case of the stolen moon rocks has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors.

    Tiffany Brooke Fowler admitted to assisting in the theft of a 600-pound safe from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. It contained lunar samples potentially worth more than $1-million, according to federal prosecutors.

    Fowler, 22, of Odessa, Texas, agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and interstate transportation of the stolen lunar items.

    The three other suspects -- Thad Ryan Roberts, 25, Gordon Sean McWhorter, 26, and Shae Lynn Saur, 19 -- have pleaded not guilty. They all remain free on bail.

    The bulk of the 842 pounds of moon rock from the Apollo missions are kept in a secure area at the Johnson Space Center. On July 13, a 600-pound safe disappeared from a scientist's lab. No one noticed it was missing until two days later.

    Roberts, Fowler and Saur, who all worked at the facility, obtained combinations to the building, lab and the safe and broke in at night, according to court documents.

    Federal officials arrested the four suspects July 20 after they tried to sell the moon rocks to undercover agents in Orlando.

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