A historian in Maryland was charged Tuesday with stealing World War II documents and dog tags from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and selling them.
Police entered the Maryland home of Antonin DeHays, 32, June 9 with a search warrant and found six sets of stolen WWII dog tags and other documents from U.S. servicemen whose planes had crashed in WWII, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) statement. DeHays allegedly sold several dog tags on eBay, even trading one set of tags assigned to a Tuskegee Airman for the chance to sit inside a Spitfire airplane.
“The theft of our history should anger any citizen,” Archivist of the United States David Ferriero said in a statement. “Although we have increased our security measures in recent years, this case highlights the constant threat our records and artifacts face and why the security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority.”
Historians stealing or altering documents in the National Archives is not unheard of. In 2012, Les Waffen, 67, plead guilty to stealing nearly 1,000 documents including rare recordings of the 1948 World Series and the 1937 Hindenburg zeppelin disaster, according to NARA. Waffen was sentenced to 18 months in prison with two years of supervised release.
In 2011, Thomas Lowry, 78, admitted to altering a document written in President Abraham Lincoln’s own hand, changing the date of a presidential pardon from 1864 to 1865 so he could make the claim that it was Lincoln’s final official action before his assassination. Lowry was never charged, however, because the statute of limitations had expired by the time of his confession.
DeHays made his first court appearance Tuesday, and will face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
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