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Stolen Civil War items sold on EBay

Prosecutors accuse a man who interned at the National Archives.

March 16, 2007|From the Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — An intern with the National Archives stole about 165 Civil War documents -- including the War Department's announcement of President Lincoln's death -- and sold most of them on EBay, prosecutors charged Thursday.

Denning McTague, who runs a website that sells rare books, worked at a National Archives and Records Administration site in Philadelphia last summer, prosecutors said.

McTague, 40, of Philadelphia, has helped officials recover most of the missing items and plans to plead guilty, his lawyer said.

The stolen documents include telegrams concerning troops' weaponry, the Lincoln death announcement sent to soldiers, and a letter from famed Confederate cavalryman James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart, prosecutors said.

The sale of one of the items on EBay aroused suspicion and led to the investigation, National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper said. The office of U.S. Atty. Patrick L. Meehan said that all but a handful of the items had been recovered.

McTague, who holds master's degrees in history and information systems, secured the unpaid internship through an affiliation with a university, court records show. The records do not name the university, but Cooper said a professor at New York's State University at Albany had recommended McTague.

McTague had been responsible for arranging and organizing documents in preparation for the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Civil War. As an intern, he may not have had to go through security checks.

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