New Yorker pleads guilty to stealing historical documents

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 27, 2011 4:14 PM
New Yorker pleads guilty to stealing historical documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A New York man pleaded guilty on Thursday to stealing valuable historical documents, including copies of speeches by Franklin Roosevelt and a land grant document signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Jason Savedoff, 24, pleaded guilty to stealing the documents and conspiracy to steal them. He worked with a noted presidential historian in the scheme, Barry Landau, who is accused of selling some of the items for thousands of dollars.

Charges are pending against Landau who has pleaded not guilty. He was accused of selling four reading copies of speeches by Roosevelt for $35,000, according to the indictment filed in July.

Prosecutors said some of the other documents Savedoff admitted were stolen and since had been recovered were items signed by George Washington, John Adams, Franklin Roosevelt and a handwritten letter by Napoleon Bonaparte.

They were accused of stealing the documents from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and historical societies in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York. One item was a land grant dated June 1, 1861 signed by Lincoln.

Savedoff and Landau visited the museums posing as researchers and one of them would hide the documents they stole in their jackets, which had hidden pockets, according to prosecutors. After the theft they tried to remove any evidence at the museum that it had the item, they said.

Savedoff faces up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years for the theft charge. He is due to be sentenced on February 10, 2012.

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington, editing by Chris Wilson)