NY AG: Stolen Historic Documents Discovered, Employee Arrested

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Wow. This is big news. A New York State employee in NY's Education Department was arrested and is accused of stealing hundreds of historical documents and selling them on eBay. Among the documents were Davy Crockett's Almanacs, letters by persons such as John Calhoun, Theodore Roosevelt, the original document with details about Abraham Lincoln's funeral train, and more. The employee, an artifacts specialist with the New York State Library, sold the items on eBay and at trade shows.

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 28, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of a New York State Department of Education employee who allegedly used his position to steal hundreds of historic documents and artifacts belonging to the State Library, sold some for personal profit on eBay and traded others at collectors’ shows.

Daniel D. Lorello, 54, of Van Leuven Dr. in Rensselaer, is an Archives and Records Management Specialist 3 with the Office of Cultural Education in the Department of Education. He was charged with third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and first-degree scheme to defraud, which are all felonies. According to the Felony Complaint, Lorello posted several stolen items that belonged to the New York State Library onto eBay in an attempt to sell them as privately-owned historical documents.

In the eBay ad for the [John Calhoun letter] it read, “All in all I think this is a super letter with excellent content and one that would make a great addition to any 19th century American political autograph collection… …I would say the letter is in very good shape considering it is almost 185 years old. 100% satisfaction is guaranteed. If you are dissatisfied with the letter for any reason simply return it within seven days for a no questions asked refund.” (sic)

The Calhoun letter generated bids exceeding $1,700 on the eBay auction while it was monitored by Attorney General’s investigators. Investigators monitored the auction after Richmond, Virginia attorney Joseph Romito, a former teacher and history enthusiast, alerted state authorities to the pending sale of the item, which he believed was supposed to be in possession of the State Library.

The case is still under investigation. To re-buy the documents would cost NY taxpayers about $70,000. eBay has offered to buy the items back and return them to the state.

4 remarks
Mrs. W said...

Wow. Unbelievable.

People can be so... ridiculously arrogant and selfish. And criminal.

Then I can't help but wonder... was it greed, or desperation that caused this man to do such a thing?

I'm glad ebay is making it right, at any rate. My understanding is that most people who purchase stolen goods never recoup their money, so this has got to be a real relief to the people who purchased the documents.

6:10 PM  
JenLo said...

That is crazy! Although, I can't help but think that most collectors and/or people interested in buying an artifact like this, would certainly question whether it was privately owned or not.

11:14 PM  
Mrs Mecomber said...

I'm still in awe that the guy from Virginia knew that the documents were from the NYS archives. The only other person I know who'd know that is my daughter, lol.

Yeah, JenLo, and to think, people were buying these priceless documents on eBay!! Weird!

11:32 PM  
threecollie said...

We sat in shocked horror as we watched this story unfold...just awful!

8:26 AM  

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