A Maryland historian faces a maximum prison sentence of ten years after pleading guilty on Thursday to theft of more than 400 pieces of government property.
Antonin DeHays, age 33, of College Park, Maryland, stole numerous dog tags, photographs, and other public records from the National Archives and Records Administration.
Many of the stolen tags belonged to troops who died in service to our country during WWII.
DeHays sold most of the property he stole on E-Bay to make a shameful profit. After raiding his home in College Park, officials seized some of the stolen items he stored there.
Fox News reports:
Through the end of 2012 to mid-2017, Antonin DeHays, 33, stole identification cards, personal letters, photographs, a bible, and portions of a downed U.S. aircraft, as well as dog tags, from the public research room at the National Archives, the Maryland District Attorney’s Office said. In total, more than 400 items were reportedly taken.
Included among the items were two dog tags once belonging to a Tuskegee Airman, who died in 1944, officials said. DeHays reportedly donated one of the items to a museum, and in exchange, was permitted to climb inside a single-seat fighter airplane from World War II.
Additionally, officials said they found DeHays had sold several of the historic items online. DeHays would reportedly try to cover his tracks by occasionally removing the pencil etchings from the dog tags, which could have potentially identified them as belonging to the National Archive.
According to a Department of Justice press release, a sentencing date has been set for April 4 at the United States District Court in Greenbelt, where DeHays will learn his fate.
Military.com identifies DeHays as a French historian and author “whose historical research focused largely on events during the June 1944 amphibious invasion in Normandy, France.”
According to Military.com‘s report, DeHays made more than just a monetary profit off his criminal activity.
He even “donated” some stolen tags that belonged to a downed Tuskegee airman to a military aviation museum in Virginia for a sick trade off. Apparently, he just wanted the chance to climb inside a WWII single-seat Spitfire fighter.
Fox News adds that DeHays also worked part-time at Maryland-based nonprofit National History Day. When DeHays was first arrested in June, the group issued a statement saying that DeHays was no longer employed by the nonprofit and called his actions “deplorable.”
National History Day is shocked by the thought that any historian would steal historic artifacts. Seeking personal gain from the sacrifices made by America’s heroes is deplorable. Historic artifacts are among the greatest treasures to historians and to all Americans. The destruction, theft, or removal of such artifacts is the antithesis of everything National History Day represents.
This so-called historian’s actions are an absolute disgrace to the profession. But even worse, they’re a disgrace to this country and all the men and women who have fought and died for it.
What should his punishment be for his deplorable actions?
Let us know what you think and be sure to sound off in the comments below.