Frank Sinatra must have been looking after his number one fan recently when a 35-pound bronze star memorializing the crooner, stolen from fan Ed Shirak this summer, turned up at a brownstone of the 600 block of Hudson Street. Two suspects have since been arrested and charged with receiving stolen goods.
Shirak, the owner of Lepore's Chocolates on Garden Street and the founder of the "From Here to Eternity" Sinatra museum on Monroe Street awoke on Aug. 28 to find that the star was ripped off the front wall of Lepore's despite being moored by three-inch bolts.
A dejected Shirak put up flyers offering a $500 reward for the return the plaque, which simply read, "Thank You Mr. Sinatra, April 1, 1996."
Despite being saddened, Shirak never gave up hope that the star would be returned. "I was always optimistic," said Shirak last week. "It was stolen, so it's not like they could display it or sell it. I just figured they would come to their senses and end up returning it."
But Shirak's hopes began to wane so much that on Nov. 27 he placed a order for a new $1,500. But as fate would have it, two days later the star would be found and Shirak would be able to cancel his order.
On Thursday, Nov. 29, the husband-and-wife owners of Willow Cleaning Service were visiting a potential client's apartment when they stumbled upon the star leaning against the cabinets in the kitchen.
"It was our first visit to the apartment and everything was going normal," said Anthony Katras, who found the plaque with his wife of 18 years, Guadeloupe Martinez. "I saw it when we first came in, but at first I wasn't able to put one-and-one together. It was about the last thing that you would think you would find sitting in the middle of an upscale Hudson Street brownstone."
But soon, Katras figured it out. "I'm a big Sinatra fan and read about the star when it was stolen and saw the fliers on the wall," he said. "As soon as we figured it out, we called the police and waited for them to show up."
At the time of the discovery, Shirak was in Wall Township putting the final touches on a celebration for Sinatra's birthday, to be held at the museum on Dec. 12. He was called by the police and was informed about the unearthing of the star.
On Thursday, Nov. 29, a warrant was put out for Ryan Sullivan, 23, and Brian May, 24, the pair who rented the apartment. Neither of the two returned home for the weekend but did turn themselves in, accompanied by their attorneys, on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
When I was 23, it was a very bad year ...
Sullivan and May were charged with receiving stolen property and released. Their attorneys had no comment on the arrest.
Shirak is elated about the return of the star and plans on having a rededication on Sinatra's birthday celebration, where he will entertain some of Hoboken's seniors by performing some classic tunes from the blue-eyed crooner.
Despite everything that he went through, Shirak is not that angry.
"I have to ask myself what Frank would do," said Shirak Wednesday. "Especially toward the end of his life, he was a very forgiving person. I still don't think what they did was right but I'm willing to forgive, just as I'm sure that Mr. Sinatra would forgive."
Meanwhile, Shirak gave Katras and Martinez the $500 reward for locating the star, which might just make up for those revenues they won't get cleaning Sullivan and May's apartment.