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Lewis Bennett transferred to Broward, neighbors post 'happy he was arrested' sign on door

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Posted at 3:19 PM, Sep 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 16:24:09-04

CORRECTION: Because of a reporting error, WPTV erroneously reported that Lewis Bennett had bonded out of jail. Instead, Bennett was moved from the Palm Beach County Jail to the Broward County Jail and is still in custody. The story has been updated to reflect this information. We regret the error.

The husband of a Delray Beach woman missing at sea was transferred from Palm Beach County to Broward County on Tuesday. He is being held on charges of transporting stolen coins, records show. 

Federal investigators arrested Bennett on Aug. 28 in connection with the theft of gold and silver coins valued at approximately $100,000 in St. Maarten in May 2016.

A sign found on Bennett and his wife’s suburban Delray Beach home Thursday said, “We are very happy that he has been arrested.” 

A piece of evidence taped across the door to the apartment was broken, but other pieces of tape remained intact. The FBI placed the tape on the door following a search of the home on June 16.

Bennett’s wife, Isabella Hellmann, vanished from Bennett's boat in the Florida Straits in May during a trip from St. Maarten to Key West.  

Bennett says he felt the boat hit something, and he was jolted out of bed around 1 a.m. When he looked for Isabella, she was gone. 

The FBI says there were two backpacks and a suitcase in the life raft Bennett was rescued from.
In one backpack, the FBI found nine plastic tubes of silver coins reported stolen in 2016 in St. Maarten, on a boat Bennett was a crew member for. 

The FBI along with members of the United States Coast Guard Investigative Services located two different types of gold coins in the master bedroom closet during a search of Bennett and Hellmann's residence.

The coins were contained in a soft case and hidden in a pair of boat shoes. There were a total of 162 gold coins recovered.

A judge set Bennett’s bond at $250,000 in Federal court in Key West earlier this month. The FBI held Bennett at the Monroe County Jail but the jail was evacuated to the Palm Beach County Jail due to Hurricane Irma. 

Bennett is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 26.