Historian Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Records from the National ArchivesHistorians in the News
tags: National Archives, Antonin Dehays
Antonin DeHays, age 33, of College Park, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to theft of government property stemming from the theft of government records from the National Archives and Records Administration.
The plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning and Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Jason Metrick of the National Archives and Records Administration - Office of Inspector General.
According to the plea agreement, beginning in December 2012, and continuing through in or about June 2017, DeHays stole and knowingly converted for his own use U.S. service members’ dog tags and other records from the public research room at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Specifically, DeHays stole at least 291 U.S. service members’ dog tags and at least 134 other records from the National Archives at College Park. Some of these dog tags bore evidence of damage, such as dents and charring due to fire sustained during the crashes.
For example, on or about December 9, 2016, DeHays visited the National Archives at College Park and stole two dog tags, one silver and one brass, issued to a downed Tuskegee Airman, who died when his fighter plane crashed in Germany on September 22, 1944. DeHays gave the brass dog tag to a military aviation museum in exchange for the opportunity to sit inside a Spitfire airplane. On a different occasion, DeHays stole two dog tags that were linked together with a wire loop. One of the dog tags was issued to a U.S. serviceman who served in World War II, and the other dog tag was issued to his father, who had served in World War I.
DeHays stole other records, in addition to dog tags, from the National Archives at College Park, including identification cards, personal letters, photographs, a bible, and pieces of downed U.S. aircraft.
Although DeHays kept some of the stolen U.S. dog tags and other stolen records for himself and gave others as gifts, he sold the majority of the stolen items on eBay and elsewhere. Before selling the dog tags, DeHays sometimes removed from the dog tags markings made in pencil which could have been used to identify the dog tags as having been stolen from the National Archives. On one occasion, DeHays sent a text message to a potential buyer stating that certain dog tags for sale were “burnt and show some stains of fuel, blood . . . very powerful items that witness the violence of the crash.” On a different occasion, DeHays sent a text message to a potential buyer stating that a dog tag for sale was “salty” (bearing the signs of war-related damage) and that an officer ID and American Red Cross ID for sale were “partially burned.”
DeHays faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A sentencing date has been set for April 4, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. at the United States District Court in Greenbelt.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the National Archives – Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning also thanked Assistant United States Attorney Nicolas A. Mitchell, who is prosecuting the case.
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