September 19, 2014

Another NARA Historical Document Thief Sentenced

Washington, DC . . . Today, the U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake sentenced Jason Savedoff  to twelve months and one day in prison, plus two years probation, for conspiracy and theft of historical documents from cultural institutions in four states, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York.

Among the items known to be stolen from the Roosevelt Library, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration, were seven “reading copies” of speeches that President Roosevelt delivered. They contained President Roosevelt’s edits and handwritten additions, along with his signature. The speeches have all been recovered.

Savedoff’s co-conspirator, Barry Landau, pled guilty, and was sentenced on July 28, 2012, to seven years in prison and three years of supervised release.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero thanked the Maryland Historical Society, the National Archives’ Holdings Protection Team and Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Justice Department, for bringing the case to justice. He stated:  “Close coordination with these tireless stewards allowed us to stop Jason Savedoff and Barry Landau, to build a case against them, and to bring them to justice.”

The Archivist continued, “The security of the holdings of the National Archives is my highest priority. I will not tolerate any violation of the law that protects both records and property that belongs to the U.S. government and the American people.

“The National Archives does not stand alone. All repositories of historical records and artifacts are faced with the serious challenge to keep their holdings secure. Any theft of our nation’s records is an irreplaceable loss. We at the National Archives must remain constantly vigilant, to ensure the protection of our nation’s precious heritage, while at the same time balancing the right of every American to have access to original records.”

 

Under the current leadership, the National Archives has become more vigilant, including by ensuring the establishment of the Holdings Protection Team to assess, determine, and implement security measures to ensure the public’s access to their holdings. The Holdings Protection Team has instituted a program of security studies, risk assessments, and increased security, monitoring, and screening at National Archives facilities nationwide. The Holdings Protection Team provides training to National Archives archivists and research room staff (and other employees), as well as to staff at other institutions, all aimed at increasing awareness and communication of security issues. The National Archives has also instituted a number of other measures aimed at preventing theft, such as closed-circuit cameras, exit searches, mandatory staff training, and outgoing mail inspections. 

 

According to court records, seven “reading copies” of President Roosevelt’s speeches were stolen when Savedoff and Landau visited the Roosevelt Presidential Library on December 2, 2010.

“Reading copies” are the actual copies of the speeches from which the President read. They contain edits and handwritten annotations made by him and bear his signature.

Four of these “reading copies” of speeches were sold to a collector on December 20, 2010, for $35,000.  Three other “reading copies” of inaugural addresses delivered by President Roosevelt were recovered elsewhere. Each was valued at more than $100,000, and one was the water-stained reading copy of the inaugural address President Roosevelt delivered in a steady rain in 1937.

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public the permanent records of the U.S. Government that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries, and on the Internet athttp://www.archives.gov

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About Lisa

Lisa Louise Cooke is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show at www.GenealogyGems.com. She is the author of the books Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies and The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and the Google Earth for Genealogy DVD series, an international conference speaker, and writer for Family Tree Magazine.