National History Day posted the following comment on its web site:
“On Tuesday, June 13th, National History Day learned of the indictment of one of its former part-time employees, Antonin Dehays, on charges of theft of government records for stealing and selling historic WWII artifacts from collections at the National Archives for personal financial gain. Dehays is no longer employed by National History Day.
“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.”
In a statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, 32-year-old DeHays of College Park, Maryland, was charged by federal criminal complaint on June 13, 2017, 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.
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.