Researcher Sentenced to Prison in Archives Theft Case

A historian was sentenced by a federal court on April 9 for the theft of at least 291 World War II dog tags and other artifacts from the National Archives. Antonin DeHays, a native of Normandy, France, was found to have stolen the artifacts systematically on his trips to the College Park, Maryland facility, using his status as a World War II expert to gain access to the collection. DeHays then sold the artifacts, which included immunization records, a Bible, and identification cards, on eBay and elsewhere. He made no mention of the items’ provenance in his sales listings. Other items he kept for himself or gave to others as gifts. In total, DeHays’ illegal operation netted him around $45,000 between 2012 and 2017.

DeHays admitted to systematically pocketing the items, which he claimed was partially motivated by a desire to fund a private collection he hoped to turn into a museum. He was sentenced to 364 days in prison,  three years’ probation, and must repay his defrauded customers. About 95% of the artifacts stolen by DeHays have since been recovered, the Washington Post reports, though some were irreparably damaged.