Virginia man gets probation, small fine, for stealing WWII dog tags from National Archives

A Virginia National Guard sergeant -- who previously faced 1 year in prison -- was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation Wednesday after being convicted of stealing World War II dog tags from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Maryland.

Robert Rumsby, 30, admitted taking the dog tags that belonged to four U.S. airmen killed in plane crashes in 1944, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court last May. Rumsby said his wife is the great-niece of one of the airmen killed, so he gave the dog tags to her grandmother as a gift, He said he gave another to a relative of one of the deceased airmen.

Rumsby added his mission was to give the tags to the families of the dead soldiers he met while researching a plane crash that killed his great uncle, according to Stars and Stripes.

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A Virginia National Guard sergeant was sentenced after stealing World War II-era dog tags from the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md.

A Virginia National Guard sergeant was sentenced after stealing World War II-era dog tags from the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Md. (AP)

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"I think the intent was there. I think the approach was wrong. Even at the time, I knew the approach was wrong," Rumsby told the outlet last May. "I had taken four identification tags from those record groups specifically for families I knew would treasure them."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas DiGirolamo said the sentence was given to promote respect for the law and protect "national treasures" stored at the Maryland-based National Archives.

Rumsby's defense attorney Peter Fayne had argued his client wasn't motivated by greed.

VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD SERGEANT ACCUSED OF STEALING WWII-ERA DOGTAGS FROM NATIONAL ARCHIVES

“His heart and intent were in the right place, but he accepts full responsibility for the grave mistake he made,” Fayne said.

Rumsby reportedly was holding his infant daughter in his arms during the hearing, adding that he sent a letter to National Archives officials in 2011, asking if dog tags could be released to the relatives of soldiers. He said he hadn't heard back.

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All of the dog tags have been returned to the archives, according to Christian Naylor, NARA's chief operating officer.

DiGirolamo also ordered Rumsby to pay a $5,000 fine.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.