The Washington Post reports that a man has been sentenced to nearly a year in prison after selling WWII dog tags to collectors that were stolen from the National Archives. Antonin DeHays was selling dog tags from World War II online and offering vivid descriptions of blood, fuel and burn marks on the tags that were recovered from a wreck during the war.
The problem was that these dog tags and other relics that DeHays was selling on eBay and other sites were actually government property. He had stolen them during visits to the National Archives near Washington, D.C. DeHays would gain access to the relics by touting his status as a World War II expert.
A Maryland federal judge sentenced DeHays to 364 days in prison for the theft of government records. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the buyers of his stolen goods of more that $43,000.
At the sentencing hearing, speakers advised the court that many of the relics had been taken from fallen servicemen.
DeHays is originally from Normandy, France, and is a historian who used his researcher card to gain access to the artifacts retrieved from men killed during WWII. From 2012 to 2017, he made tens of thousands of dollars selling the stolen goods online. He claims he did it to support his addiction to collecting war memorabilia and begin acquiring the things he needed to open his dream museum one day.
Among the items he stole include 300 dog tags, immunization records, personal photos, military identifications, letters, a Bible and pieces of fallen U.S. military aircraft, as well as official documents from the War Department.
About 95 percent of the stolen items have been recovered and returned to the archives, but some have suffered irreversible damage.
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