April 4, 2007 / 9:58 PM / 12 years ago

Man stole U.S. Civil War papers to sell on Internet

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A volunteer for the U.S. National Archives has admitted stealing more than 150 American Civil War documents worth about $30,000 (15,000pounds) and peddling them on the Internet, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Denning McTague pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of theft of public property after taking the documents while working at the Archives in Philadelphia as an intern last year.

McTague sold about half of them on the Internet auction site eBay, where a collector spotted one and notified officials, said Paul Brachfeld, inspector general of the National Archives. All but three of the 164 documents have been recovered.

McTague, 40, of Philadelphia, faces between six and 18 months in jail and will be sentenced on July 12.

At the National Archives, McTague was responsible for organising the documents in preparation for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

The handwritten documents contain details of armaments and other supplies sent to Union soldiers during the 1861-65 war, and also include a letter informing troops of the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

“This is property that belongs to the people of the United States and is meant to be preserved, not sold to the highest bidder,” said Patrick Meehan, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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