- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2018

A French historian pled guilty to stealing the dog tags of dead American World War II soldiers and selling them on Ebay.

Antonin DeHays, 33, pleaded guilty to theft of government property and records from the National Archives and Records Administration.

He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A sentencing date has been set for April 4, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. at the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland.

For five years, Mr. DeHays visited a National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland to review the records for pilots who crashed in Europe during World War II, the Department of Justice said. During that time, he stole at at least 291 dog tags and as many as 134 other records from the National Archives.

Some of the dog tags bore evidence of damage, such as dents and charring due to fire sustained during the crashes.

The Justice Department said Mr. DeHays stole two dog tags, one silver and one brass, issued to a downed Tuskegee Airman, who died when his plane crashed in Germany in September 1944. He gave the brass dog tag to a military aviation museum in exchange for the opportunity to sit inside a Spitfire airplane.

On another occasion, Mr. DeHays stole two dog tags that were linked together with a wire loop. One of the dog tags was issued to a U.S. servicemen who served in World War II while the other dog tag was issued to his father who had served in World War I.

Mr. DeHays also stole soldiers’ identification cards, personal letters, photographs and even a Bible. He also stole pieces of a downed U.S. aircraft, the Justice Department said.

The majority of the stolen items were sold on eBay and elsewhere. Before selling the dog tags, Mr. DeHays would remove pencil markings that linked them to the National Archives.

Describing the dog tags to potential buyers, Mr. DeHayes described the tags as “burnt and show some stains of fuel, blood…very powerful items that witness the violence of the crash.” He also described an officer ID and American Red Cross ID as “partially burned.”

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