A Gem of a Caper

Bags of jewels stolen. Two brothers in custody. The store owner implicated. Who done it?

Jurors were unmoved: They convicted Dino last June. Smith, 47, remains at San Quentin Prison, awaiting transfer to another state facility; he could not be reached for comment. Following the jury's verdict, a judge sentenced him to 23 years. Some three dozen police officers filled the courtroom's seats, eager to see a Smith brother sent away. Again.

America's Most Wanted profiled the Smiths in 2003, the first of three shows broadcast about the brothers over a two-year span. An irritated Troy Smith responded. In an open letter to the show's host, John Walsh, he claimed he would surrender if guaranteed a fair trial.

"(But) I know how they will turn on the courtroom theatrics along with the prosecutorial misconduct," he wrote. "I'll get stuck with the dim-witted lawyer from My Cousin Vinny. I'd rather take my chance with hypertension as a fugitive."

Alleged sightings of Troy poured in each time the program aired its Smiths' profile. Italy, where he played football. Costa Rica, where he sometimes vacationed. Las Vegas, where he liked to gamble.

Police still had few solid leads when, without warning, Smith came to them. And then, without warning, he came in from the cold. Last month, perhaps weary of nursing his fugitive hypertension, Troy, 45, walked into the county jail behind the Hall of Justice. His attorney, Tito Torres, escorted him. One observer said he had put on about 45 pounds and appeared worn.

Smith refused to talk with SF Weekly, and has made no statements about his decision to turn himself in. Gardner and Leydon, who had heard Troy spent time near Dino in New York, can only guess at his motive. "Life on the run isn't this great thing," Leydon says. "You always gotta be wondering what's gonna happen."

Troy and Dino's father, Nolan, who lives in San Francisco, would say only, "He all along wanted to do this. He didn't plan on staying out there."

Torres, who has represented Smith in previous cases, declined to speculate about a legal strategy in the Lang case. But he, too, insists he had no idea where Troy hid out. "I didn't know and I didn't want to know. He was hot."

The same sense of mystery enshrouds the jewelry stolen from Lang's three years ago this month. Apart from the pieces recovered with George Turner and a batch of items worth $145,000 discovered earlier this year in the city, the stolen gems have stayed underground. The city's richest jewelry heist, it would seem, remains among its richest enigmas.

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