Men accused in downtown Houston art heist face judge

Lawyer claims the painting was assumed to be trash

By Louis Lochte - News Producer

HOUSTON - The men accused of a painting heist at the downtown Chase Tower building appeared in front of a judge Monday.

According to police, Juan Noriega, 25, and Austin Brown, 24, entered the building wearing business attire on June 27. Once inside, the men went after a large painting on the wall, investigators said.

The two were spotted on surveillance cameras and security guards went after them, police said.

Investigators said Noriega and Brown dropped the painting and fled, but officers caught up with them about a block away.

Brown's attorney said Monday his client didn't steal anything. According to the attorney, the painting was lying on the ground and assumed to be trash.

Noriega and Brown are both charged with theft.

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