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Billionaire's son faces charges after bizarre burglary

Published June 17, 2006

CORNWALL, Conn. - The son of billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens was charged with burglary after he was found hiding under a desk in a fly fishing shop, authorities said.

Michael Pickens, 51, of Nocona, Texas, spent three days in jail after his arraignment Monday in Bantam Superior Court.

He was found Sunday inside the Housatonic Meadows Fly Shop after the store's manager noticed something wrong and called police, according to state police.

Pickens had stopped in at the store earlier in the day, chatting about football and telling people he was a high-powered stockbroker on a fishing vacation, the store's manager Devin "Moe" Booth said Friday.

A few hours after closing the store Sunday night, Booth returned and said he discovered someone had jimmied open a back window to break in, then put reels, weights and other fly-fishing items valued at about $3,000 into a cooler.

While waiting for a state trooper to respond to his call, Booth inspected the store and office to see what else was missing. He said he discovered Pickens sleeping in the fetal position under a desk, his face resting on his folded hands.

"I shake him and he jumps up like a jack-in-the-box," Booth said. "He just keeps saying over and over, 'You said I could use the phone anytime.'

"I say, 'Dude, even if I did, you don't break in and steal stuff and fall asleep under my desk,' " Booth said. "He's got this look on his face the whole time like he did nothing wrong."

A message left with a state police spokesman Friday seeking further detail was not returned.

Pickens could not be reached Friday. His wife, Donna, said he was not at their home in Nocona, and she would not comment. A call to his New York lawyer was not returned.

Pickens was indicted last year on federal securities fraud allegations in New York and had been freed on $500,000 bail under a promise to appear for future court dates and not violate the law. He faces 20 years in jail if convicted of securities fraud.

As a result of the arrest in Cornwall, Pickens was ordered to appear in U.S. District Court in New York for a hearing, where a judge will decide whether to increase his bail.

[Last modified June 17, 2006, 06:23:59]

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