Every once in a while we’d have a federal case come through our doors that piqued everyone’s interest. Like the fraud case we had with F.Lee Bailey where former governor Claude Kirk was a witness. Not to mention the one with N’Sync and Lou Pearlman.
But a few years back, we had a case where these brilliant NASA interns decided to steal moon rocks from the NASA laboratory in Houston and try to sell them to the highest bidder. Well, not only did they not succeed in that not-so-brilliant endeavor, they also ended up throwing away their bright futures in the process.
Thad Roberts was working as an intern at NASA’s Houston office. He was the mastermind behind it all. Once they stole them, they transported them across state lines into Florida to meet up with a supposed buyer. I remember a co-defendant was a young woman, supposedly Thad Roberts’ love interest, on the path to becoming an astronaut. I still remember her and her parents at the sentencing hearing, dejected and forlorn.
Growing up on the Space Coast, I’ve had the opportunity a few times to meet astronauts at the Space Center. Well, we had H. Schmidt testify at one of the sentencing hearings about how they recovered these rocks from the moon. The one and only time I’ve ever asked a witness for their autograph!
I specifically remember talking to my co-workers at the time saying, “you could write a book about this!”. And I was right! I should go out and buy some lottery tickets.
So if you have a chance to read all about it: “Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History”. Written by Ben Mezrich, the same person who wrote “The Accidental Billionaires”.