The federal grand jury indicted esteemed Presidential historian Barry Landau and his assistant, Jason Savedoff, for stealing and selling historical documents which include documents signed by Abraham Lincoln, speeches by Franklin D. Roosevelt and a letter from Benjamin Franklin reports said.
The pair is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Friday at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore. They are already facing state charges in Baltimore where bail was set Tuesday at $500,000 for 63-year-old Landau and $750,000 for his 24-year-old assistant. They could face upto five years in prison for conspiracy and 10 years for theft.
Landau and Savedoff were nailed earlier this month, when an employee at Maryland Historical Society reported that he had seen Savedoff take a document out of the society's Baltimore library and put it in a portfolio. Investigators found 60 documents inside a locker Savedoff was using. These included an 1861 document given to a soldier who fought in the War of 1812, and signed by president Abraham Lincoln worth $300,000 and presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000, said Baltimore prosecutors.
The two were also indicted for taking several historical documents on Dec. 2, including seven "reading copies" of speeches given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in New York four of which Landau sold for $35000 stated an AFP report. They also stole Franklin's letter to John Paul Jones from the New York Historical Society, prosecutors said.
U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein commended the presence of mind of the Maryland Historical Society employee as well as quick action taken by the Baltimore Police Department and FBI.
"...(The incident) should send a wake-up call to museums that entrust valuable documents to persons who claim to be engaged in academic research," he said.
Rosenstein is conducting a nationwide investigation to memorabilia and historical documents stolen by the pair.
FBI Agent Richard McFeely said the agency has recovered thousands of records during his tenure, but "the scope and notoriety of what we have seized and secured in this case is truly breathtaking" added the AFP report.
Barry Landau ,leading American historian has a Web site which calls him "America's Presidential Historian". Landau has made appearances on several TV shows like "Good Morning America", 'The Today Show" and "The Martha Stewart Show".