A historian is accused of stealing dog tags from fallen World War II heroes, as well as other documents from a National Archives facility in Maryland, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.
Antonin DeHays, 32, of College Park, is charged with theft of government records from the National Archives and Records Administration.
“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,” the press release said.
DeHays sold the stolen items on eBay and exchanged one of the dog tags for a chance to sit inside a Spitfire airplane.
“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,” the release stated.
“The theft of our history should anger any citizen,” Archivist of the United States David Ferriero said Tuesday in the release. “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.”
Six dog tags and other documents were seized after investigators executed a warrant at DeHays’ home.
If convicted, DeHays could face up to 10 years in prison.
Authorities say that DeHays admitted he stole the artifacts for “private financial gain,” the Washington Post reported.