A historian pleaded guilty to stealing dog tags from hundreds of U.S. service members, including fallen World War II heroes, as well as other historical records from a National Archives facility in Maryland, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland.
Antonin DeHays, 32, of College Park, stole more than 400 government records from the National Archives and Records Administration between December 2012 and June 2017, according to the statement.
DeHays stole at least 291 U.S. service members’ dog tags and at least 134 other records from the National Archives at College Park. The records included identification cards, personal letters, photographs, a Bible and pieces of downed U.S. aircraft.
The majority of the stolen records were sold on eBay. DeHays kept some of the records for himself and gave some away as gifts.
Among the stolen items were two stolen dog tags belonging to a downed Tuskegee Airman who died in a fighter plane crash in Germany on Sept. 22, 1944. DeHays gave the brass dog tag to a museum, and in exchange, was permitted to sit in a Spitfire airplane.
On occasion, to try and hide that the dog tags were stolen, DeHays would remove markings made in pencil that indicate the dog tags belong to the National Archives.
In one instance, DeHays sent a text message to a potential buyer stating that certain dog tags were “burnt and show some stains of fuel, blood… very powerful items that witness the violence of the crash.”
DeHays faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The scheduled date for sentencing is April 4 at the United States District Court in Greenbelt.