Superman's ideals of truth, justice and the American Way were exemplified this week when Gerry Armbruster, the man police arrested last month for robbing mentally disabled comic book fan Mike Meyer of thousands of dollars worth of Superman comics and collectibles, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to six years in prison. Meyer, a 48-year-old man who works at McDonald's to supplement the income he receives from Social Security, was pleased to hear the news of Armbruster's conviction while visiting the Siegel House, the Cleveland residence in which Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel first devised the Man of Steel.Armbruster, with whom Meyer used to work at another fast food restaurant, ingratiated himself to Meyer during an encounter at a comic book store sometime in August of this year. Armbruster expressed interest in Meyer's Superman collection, and Meyer invited Armbruster into his home to inspect the items. Armbruster specifically asked to see the "most precious" comics, and later returned with a woman he identified as his girlfriend, asking if they could watch Superman movies with Meyer. While Meyer and the woman watched films, Armbruster "disappeared for a while." Meyer later discovered the theft of more than 1,800 items and informed the police.

Widely reported in the comics blogosphere and beyond, Meyer's plight enraged everyone who heard of it, and fellow fans (including Superman actor Brandon Routh) were inspired to help the man double the size of his original collection with donations of comics, toys, original artwork and other merchandise.

A ComicsAlliance reader who contacted us about the left appeared to be the party who unwittingly purchased the stolen goods from Armbruster, and subsequently turned the items over to Granite City police. By then, the authorities had already arrested the 37-year-old Armbruster for an unrelated but no less heinous incident, the robbery of jewelry and cash from a 76-year-old man who allegedly received minor injuries during the incident.

After police returned the stolen property to Meyer, the Man of Steel devotee in turn donated the excess items to a local children's hospital in a move truly worthy of Superman.

Amazingly, Meyer was touring the Siegel House in Cleveland, Ohio when he heard the news of Armbruster's conviction and sentencing. The Beville News Democrat quotes Meyer's friend Keith Howard, who has served as an intermediary for the man since all of this began. "Mike said he wishes they could have put him in for a couple of years longer, but he is happy that [Armbruster] will spend some time behind bars."

The conviction of Armbruster, who plead guilty in an Illinois court to charges of residential burglary and aggravated battery, puts an end to a saga that has been bittersweet for Meyer. While he was indeed violated most cruelly by a man who pretended to be his friend, Meyer was touched by the outpouring of support from strangers. He said via Howard in September, "I have never felt so much love in my life; I no longer feel like the Frankenstein monster. I feel that people understand me now, for the first time in my life."

[Via Robot 6]