The NYC Police Department has recovered the 1973 Best Actor Tony Award Ben Vereen won for Pippin. Marc Ross, 29, has been arrested for the theft and charged with Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.
The Award was reported missing earlier this week by Vereen's daughter, Malika, who told police her ex-boyfriend was the likely culprit. Lt. Cory Cuneo, a Police Department spokesperson, told Playbill On-Line the suspect was initially questioned and his New Jersey house searched, but there was no evidence connecting him to any theft. However, at 2:15 AM Nov. 11, Martin Davin of the 20th Precinct caught Ross red-handed with the Tony on West 64th Street, near the Vereens' apartment.
"We had a surveillance on him," Cuneo said. "He was grabbed in possession of it. It's a felony charge, carrying at least a year in jail minimum if he's convicted."
At first, police were skeptical about Ross' motives, since he apparently makes a six-figure salary and was, according to Vereen's daughter, seeking only a $500 ransom for the award. However, it came to the Department's attention that Ross has three priors: a 1994 arrest for theft in New Jersey, a September 1999 arrest for Contempt of Court, and a sealed arrest in New York City.
Complicating the case early on was the fact that Vereen has been out of the country. He was able to tell police the Tony wasn't where it should have been, but wasn't physically present to confirm its theft. Vereen, a onetime Judas of Broadway's Jesus Christ Superstar and the Leading Player of Broadway's Pippin, had a recent run as Billy Flynn in the Las Vegas company of Chicago.
-- By David Lefkowitz