New York State Archivist Accused of Stealing Historic Artifacts

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A long-time state archivist was accused of stealing hundreds of historic artifacts and documents from the New York State Library, including two Davy Crockett Almanacs, and selling some pieces on eBay.

Daniel Lorello, 54, an archives and records management specialist in the state Education Department, was arraigned Monday on charges of third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and first-degree scheme to defraud.

Lorello pleaded not guilty. He was released on his own recognizance and placed on administrative leave from his $71,732-a-year job.

Lorello also stole a signed 1823 letter from former Vice President John Calhoun that generated bids of up to $1,700 during an eBay auction monitored by investigators. Other items stolen by Lorello included a Winfield Scott Hancock calling card and Currier and Ives colored lithographs, according to the state attorney general's office.

"These irreplaceable documents are the property of all New Yorkers," said state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Joseph Romito, a lawyer and history buff in Richmond, Va., tipped authorities off after he spotted one of the items for sale on eBay and realized it was supposed to belong to New York state.

After searching the suspect's home this past weekend, officials found hundreds of documents and artifacts belonging to the state. Officials believe the theft goes back to 2002, Cuomo spokesman John Milgram said.

It's unclear how much Lorello profited from his sales. In some cases he went to trade shows and exchanged the state's items for others, authorities said. But officials said in just two sales of Davy Crockett Almanacs he received more than $5,000.

Altogether, officials at the attorney general's office believe his profits to be in the "tens of thousands."

eBay is working with state officials to obtain the past sales records from Lorello's account.

Lorello made no comment as he left court and a message left on his answering machine was not immediately returned.