A historian who once headed the Theodore Roosevelt Association has pleaded guilty to stealing three rare letters -- one written by Abraham Lincoln and two by George Washington -- stored in a vault at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site.
Edward J. Renehan Jr., of North Kingston, Rhode Island, later resold the letters for nearly $100,000 through a Manhattan gallery, according to federal authorities. He faces up to a decade in prison and fines of $250,000, plus restitution, when sentenced later this summer.
The Lincoln letter had been written March 1, 1840, while the Washington letters were written on December 29, 1778, and August 9, 1791, respectively.
“The National Park Service is in the business of preserving the natural and cultural resources of this nation, and that includes historic documents such as the ones that were sadly stolen by someone who placed personal profit over their commitment to protect priceless property that belongs to the American people,” said NPS supervisory special agent Jeffrey Pascale.
Mr. Renehan also is being prosecuted for the theft of a third rare letter. It was that discovery that led the Theodore Roosevelt Association to check for items that might be missing from their collection. That ultimately led to the federal investigation into Mr. Renehan.
Investigators were able to recover the letters -- two in the Los Angeles area and the third in Connecticut.