State archivist Daniel Lorello is accused of stealing historic files, such as Davy Crockett almanac, to peddle on eBay. B. Smith for News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/01/29/2008-01-29_archivist_steals_historic_artifacts_from-1.html
Daniel Lorello is accused of stealing a $3,000 Davy Crockett almanac, an 1823 letter from statesman John C. Calhoun and other artifacts to auction them off on eBay.
“This crime is especially repugnant, because it’s dealing with historic documents,” state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Monday. “It’s literally stealing the legacy of the State of New York page by page.”
The light-fingered librarian began his crime spree to pay for household bills and a $10,000 credit card bill run up by his daughter, Maria, authorities said.
He swiped a few items over the years, but his theft escalated last year when he realized the state might install security cameras in the Albany archive office where he worked, authorities said.
“I took things on an as-needed basis to pay family bills, such as house renovations, car bills, tuition and my daughter’s credit card problem,” Lorello wrote in a statement released by Cuomo.
Lorello, 59, noted he took “more than 300 or 400 items in 2007 alone.”
“I particularly liked items associated with the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Mexican War, Black Americana, [World War I], anything related to the Roosevelts, Jewish items,” he wrote, according to authorities.
Lorello, who began working at the state archives in 1979, was placed on administrative leave from his $71,000-a-year job. He was freed on bail after pleading not guilty to charges of felony grand larceny and fraud. About 90% of the stolen items have been recovered, many from unsuspecting buyers. Lorello used the online moniker “ldd1863” to sell the items, authorities said.
In an eBay entry about the Calhoun letter, he allegedly boasted: “All in all I think this is a super letter with excellent content. A great addition to any 19th century political autograph collection.”
Authorities said it’s unclear how much Lorello made. But officials said just two sales of Davy Crockett Almanacs – popular 19th century pamphlets about the frontier hero’s exploits – fetched more than $5,000.
Lorello was tripped up by Joseph Romito, a retired history professor who became suspicious when he spotted the posting for the Calhoun letter. Romito, 59, said he wanted to bid on it, but quickly discovered that it belonged to the state.
“I thought, ‘Why would the state library relinquish it?'” Romito recalled yesterday.
Investigators tipped off by Romito won the auction with a bid of $1,800. Lorello realized officials were closing in on him when his boss asked him if he knew the identity of “ldd1863.” He drove to Massachusetts and sent the confession and a lithograph back to the archive office, along with a purported apology. “I asked that all be forgiven,” Lorello said.