On November 9, 2012, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland reported that Jason James Savedoff of New York, New York was sentenced to 366 days in prison and two years of supervised release. He conspired to steals original documents from Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, John Adams, and multiple other historical figures from museums and historical societies.
During the plea agreement, Savedoff admitted that he and Barry Landau, the co-defendant, stole manuscripts and other documents from the Maryland Historical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Connecticut Historical Society, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.
Before stealing the documents, the two men made lists of documents from important historical figures and figured out what signatures had the most value. They often visited the museums and posed as researchers. They used aliases to hide their true identities, and they stole the documents by hiding them in hidden pockets in their sport coats and outerwear. The co-defendants were able to distract museum curators as they stole the documents.
The defendants made a checklist for each document that included the author, the document’s date, the document’s collection, the museum card catalogue number, any microfilm for the document, markings on the document, and more. The defendants were able to hide the card catalogue entries so museum aids were unable to notice the document was missing.
When Landau’s apartment was searched, authorities found of 6,000 items that were stolen around the United States. These documents were signed by George Washington, John Adams, Franklin Roosevelt, Marie Antoinette, Karl Marx, and Sir Isaac Newton. The documents are in the process of being returned to museums and proper owners.
Landau was sentenced to seven years in prison, and he is required to pay restitution of $46,525.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation