News broke this afternoon of the arrest of a New York state archivist who was selling rare American documents on eBay. Daniel Lorello has been accused of stealing the documents from the New York State Library and then selling them on eBay in order to raise money for his daughter's credit card debts.
Items he is accused of selling are very rare Davy Crockett almanacs (popular in the 1840's and 1850's), Currier and Ives lithographs, and a timetable for Abraham Lincoln's funeral. Fortunately, a sharp-eyed history buff in Virginia noted the then-current auction on eBay of an 1823 letter written by Vice-President John C. Calhoun. The buff, an attorney in Virginia, did some quick research and discovered it belonged to the New York State Archive collection. He notified New York authorities, who placed the winning bid for the letter.
Officials in New York are trying to determine just how many items have already been sold and some are in the process of being returned. No mention was made if the buyers will be held responsible. A search of Lorello's home found hundreds of other rare documents. Lorello had a wide-ranging access to the documents in the collection. Thank goodness he didn't get to an exceptionally rare draft of the Emancipation Proclamation!
It's revolting and extremely upsetting when crimes such as these occur. These documents are part of our history and they belong to all of us, especially to the citizens of New York state.
If convicted of these crimes, Lorello faces roughly 25 years in prison. If he's guilty, let's hope he's sentenced the maximum time permitted under law.