FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – A former Texas Motor Speedway security guard surrendered to authorities in connection with the theft of a racing suit worn by the late NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Sr.

After Fort Worth police obtained an arrest warrant for him, James John Karl, 44, of North Richland Hills, went with his attorney Monday to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, where he posted a $1,500 bond and was released, police Lt. Dean Sullivan said Wednesday.

Police filed with Denton County prosecutors a charge of theft of $500 to $1,500, Sullivan said.

The Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

The racing suit – worth between $50,000 and $100,000 – along with a helmet and shoes were stolen in November but were returned last week after Karl’s attorney, Jeff Kennedy, contacted police.

The items are usually displayed on a mannequin in a glass case at the race track’s gift shop. This year, they were used to recreate a famous photo of Earnhardt hugging his son after Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Nextel Cup race at Texas in 2000.

Earnhardt Sr., arguably the most famous driver in NASCAR history, gave the items as a gift to speedway president Eddie Gossage in 1996.

Earnhardt died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500.

Karl was hired as a part-time security guard in the spring of 2005 and was fired Dec. 14, the day Gossage received the items from police, speedway officials said.

AP-ES-12-20-06 1816EST

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