Historian Accused of Stealing and Selling Items from the National Archives

French historian Antonin DeHays has been accused of stealing World War II dog tags and other historic items from the National Archives

The Washington Post and other news outlets have reported this news item today: Antonin DeHays, a French historian working with the National Archives has been charged with the theft and sale of several historical items. These items include dog tags from World War II that were later sold on Ebay.

Here is the entire press release from The Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland:

Historian Charged In Federal Court With Theft Of Government Records From The National Archives

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Greenbelt, Maryland – Antonin DeHays, age 32, of College Park, Maryland, a historian, was charged by federal criminal complaint today with theft of government records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The complaint 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.

Archivist of the United States David Ferriero stated, “The theft of our history should anger any citizen, but as a veteran I am shocked at allegations that a historian would show such disregard for records and artifacts documenting those captured or killed in World War II. Although we have increased our security measures in recent years, this case highlights the constant threat our records and artifacts face and why the security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority.”

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, between in or about October 2015 and on or about June 9, 2017, DeHays, a historian, repeatedly visited the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, and stole dog tags and other documents belonging to U.S. servicemen whose planes had crashed during World War II. DeHays sold the stolen dog tags on eBay. In addition, on at least one occasion, DeHays gave a stolen dog tag assigned to a Tuskegee Airman to a museum in Virginia, in exchange for an opportunity to sit inside a Spitfire airplane.

On June 9, 2017, investigators executed a federal search warrant at DeHays’s residence and seized six dog tags and other documents that had been stolen from National Archives at College Park.

If convicted, DeHays faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. An initial appearance was held for DeHays in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on June 13, 2017.

A complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

NARA Inspector General James Springs thanked all of the federal employees involved in this investigation, stating “Thefts from the Archives are thefts of history. We will work tirelessly to find those who would try to steal any record from the American people.”

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended NARA – Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning also thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Nicolas A. Mitchell and Arun G. Rao, who are prosecuting the case.

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Thomas MacEntee
Genealogy educator and author Thomas MacEntee has been researching his family history for more than 40 years and is the creator of Abundant Genealogy, Genealogy Bargains, DNA Bargains, The Genealogy Do-Over and numerous other web-based genealogy and family history properties.

3 Comments on "Historian Accused of Stealing and Selling Items from the National Archives"

  1. This is terrible! I like to think of our archives as a safe place for all the historic items. I hope this is a very rare occurrence.

  2. Linda Johnson | 16 June 2017 at 4:25 pm |

    Unfortunately, this has happened before and showcases the need for constant, and expensive,vigilance in all archives.

  3. Ben Strasser | 20 June 2017 at 10:55 am |

    I am a photographer working for the DPAA formally JPAC and along with three analysts evaluate material evidence returned from crash sites is Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Europe. At present I have over 1.2 terabytes of digital photographs of items recovered from the crash sites. Our analysts will provide a written report on each case we investigate and findings forwarded to the lost ones family members. We report to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Are these the kind of things that should be sent to the National Archives? What brought this to my attention was the dog tag in your article.

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