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NPS Investigation Leads To Recovery Of Stolen Historic Letters

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site

National Park News

The United States attorney for the Southern District of New York announced yesterday that Edward J. Renehan, Jr., the former head of the Theodore Roosevelt Association, a park partner, has pled guilty to the theft of three letters from the association that he later resold through a Manhattan gallery for $97,000. The letters, one written by Abraham Lincoln in 1840 and the other two written by George Washington in 1791 and 1778, were stored in a vault at Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, where Renehan, a historian, had access. Because the birthplace is a unit of the National Park Service, the agency assumed jurisdiction for the investigation. “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. He thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its swift prosecution of this case, the Theodore Roosevelt Association for its cooperation, and the Nassau County district attorney for its assistance. The Nassau County DA’s office is also prosecuting Renehan for the theft of another historic letter. The discovery of that theft led the Theodore Roosevelt Association to check for items that might be missing from their collection, which ultimately led to the federal investigation into Renehan. The investigation into the missing association letters was conducted by special agents from the NPS Investigative Services Branch. The branch employs approximately 42 special agents at offices throughout the United States in various parks. Agents from California, with assistance from NPS protection rangers at Santa Monica Mountains NRA, recovered two of the historic letters in the Los Angeles area.  The third letter was recovered in Connecticut.  Additional historic letters and objects have also been recovered as a result of the investigation. For a copy of the Department of Justice press release, click on the link below.


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