A researcher and historian from Maryland pleaded guilty to stealing military records and artifacts from the National Archives and Records Administration.
Antonin DeHays, 33, said in his plea agreement that he stole and knowingly converted service members’ dog tags and records from the public research room at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.
From December 2012 through about June 2017, DeHays stole at least 291 dog tags and at least 134 records, including identification cards, personal letters, photos, a bible and pieces of downed U.S. aircraft.
In December 2016, the historian visited the archives and stole two dog tags — one silver and one brass — that had been issued to a Tuskegee airman who died when his fighter plane crashed in Germany in 1944, according to the news release.
DeHays gave the brass dog tag to a military aviation museum in exchange for sitting inside a World War II-era Spitfire aircraft.
He sold most of the stolen items on eBay, but he kept some of the dog tags and records either for himself or as gifts to others, the DoJ said.
Before he sold the dog tags, he sometimes removed markings made in pencil that could be used to identify the tags as property of the National Archives.
Last year, the archives staff and the Office of Inspector General found that these artifacts and documents had been stolen from World War II records, according to the National Archives website.
In June, investigators used a warrant to search DeHays’ home, where they recovered the dog tags and documents.
A sentencing date has been set for April 4 at the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, according to the DoJ.
If convicted of stealing government records, DeHays faces up to 10 years in prison.
Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.