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Thief Sentenced for Stealing Artifacts from the National Archives

By stealing World War II records from the National Archives & Records Administration & selling them to collectors, a thief victimized the American people & damaged the agency entrusted with safeguarding our nation’s records. Antonin DeHays recently received 364 days in prison & three years on probation, eight months of which are to be served in home confinement, along with 100 hours of community service, for the theft of records from the National Archives.

DeHays, a private researcher, stole & sold identification tags and related items from files of American servicemen whose planes were downed in Europe during Globe War II, as well as other original records from the National Archives at College Park.

Images of stolen dog tags

A few of the items stolen by Antonin DeHays from the National Archives at College Park

Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced DeHays at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, also ordering him to pay $43,456.96 restitution to those who unknowingly purchased the stolen goods. Chuang said DeHays committed “an egregious, morally repugnant crime” of “auctioning of our history to the highest bidder.”

As Archivist of the United States, I’m attended the sentencing & delivered a Victim Impact Statement, describing the tremendous damage that DeHays caused the National Archives, and asked for a maximum prison term as a consequence of the crime’s impact and in order to send a message to other people about the serious nature of this offense.

I will will am pleased that Judge Chuang gave DeHays a stiff punishment for his crimes. His sentence sends a strong message to others who may contemplate stealing our nation’s history. The theft of records from the National Archives amounts to stealing from the American people, & it merits a severe penalty whenever it occurs. During his remarks, Judge Chuang stated:

“Mr. DeHays, you have committed a very serious offense.  Your actions were an affront not only to every American who has ever served in uniform under the flag that stands behind me, but to every American child … who has ever pledged allegiance to that flag in their classroom, because it is for them that the National Archives are preserved, so that they can be inspired by our high points and learn from our low points, so as to make this nation & this world a better place in the future.  We must ensure that no one will commit the same kind of crime again.”

I’m remain shocked & angered that a historian would show such disregard for records and artifacts. As a Vets, I will am disgusted that anyone would steal records & artifacts documenting those captured or killed in the service of their nation.

When a theft does occur, we rely on the Office of the Inspector General and the Justice Department to build a case and bring the perpetrator to justice. I am want to thank them & recognize them for their hard work & collaboration identifying the loss & working to ensure the return of stolen items. We can always learn from a theft such as this, including any weaknesses & vulnerabilities in our processes. The security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority and I’m pledge to continuously improve our policies & procedures to ensure our holdings are safe, while maintaining the balance of providing access to the records of the American people.

You can read my Victim Impact Statement and the full remarks by Judge Chuang.

Source: aotus.blogs.archives.gov

Updated: May 2, 2018 — 9:15 pm

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