Seaport museum taps veteran skipper Theodore Newbold, who ran the museum in the 1980s, was named acting president. The ex-president is accused of fraud.

Posted: March 02, 2007

A former chief of the Independence Seaport Museum has agreed to take its helm again while the museum hunts for a permanent boss to replace the veteran president the museum has accused of a $2.4 million fraud.

Theodore Newbold, 77, who also was once executive director of the Betsy Ross House, will be acting president of the museum until about May, by which time Independence Seaport expects to complete a national search for a permanent president.

Newbold said yesterday that he would try to undo damage done by the former president, John S. Carter, who is now under federal criminal investigation.

"I know a lot of the people he turned off, and they've got to be turned back on," Newbold said.

After one day on the job, Newbold said he found the museum's staff "very devoted, despite everything."

Peter McCausland, chairman of Independence Seaport's board, said Newbold would help with what McCausland called the "mending" of the museum. He said Independence Seaport had "a lot of candidates in the queue" for the permanent slot.

Newbold replaces Karen Cronin, who served as acting president after Carter was ousted last March. She has left the museum staff.

Newbold was president of the museum, then called the Philadelphia Maritime Museum, from 1983 to 1989, when he was replaced by Carter.

Carter oversaw the museum's move from Third and Chestnut Streets to Penn's Landing.

In January, the museum accused Carter in a civil suit of diverting museum money to subsidize a "lavish lifestyle" marked by trips to France and New Zealand and freewheeling spending on paintings, high-end furniture, and expensive boats.

The museum has been making its way through rough seas of late.

Last month, a federal grand jury accused State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo of committing his own fraud on Independence Seaport. It said the Philadelphia Democrat had illegally cruised for free on museum-owned yachts at a cost of $100,000.

Fumo served for many years as a museum board member until he quit after his indictment. Carter, like Fumo, had defended the senator's use of the luxury yachts, saying such trips could raise money for the museum or increase its profile.

On Tuesday, the judge hearing the museum's lawsuit against Carter appointed a receiver to take control of Carter's money pending the outcome of the suit.

The lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts because Carter now lives in Cape Cod. To protect the assets, the receiver is to go into Carter's home to videotape its contents, the judge said in an order.

Contact staff writer Craig R. McCoy at 215-854-4821 or cmccoy@phillynews.com.

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