Monday, January 28, 2008

NY Archives Employee Accused of Theft

Newsday reports:

"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."

After a tip from a Virginia collector, who spotted one of the stolen items on eBay, authorities began monitoring Lorello's auctions and executed a search warrant on his home last weekend; they found "hundreds of documents" there, according to the state attorney general's office. Officials believe Lorello has made "tens of thousands" of dollars by selling or exchanging items stolen from the State Library.

A few of the stolen items: the two Davy Crockett almanacs, plus "a signed 1823 letter from former Vice President John Calhoun ... a Winfield Scott Hancock calling card and Currier and Ives colored lithographs."

The Albany Times-Union adds that Lorello, who has worked at the archives since 1979, "oversaw the movement of historic records during renovation of the State Archives," and that authorities believe the thefts occurred beginning in 2002.

"City Court Judge Rachel Kretser released him without bail and advised him to remain in the Albany area. He is scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 11.

Lorello declined to comment after he left court and then sprinted away as reporters pursued him outside the courthouse on Morton Avenue.

However, according to a statement authorities say he made, Lorello claimed he started doing it six years ago because he was burdened with bills for things like home renovation, tuition, and his daughter's $10,000 credit card tab.

According to the statement, he said hed come in early when no one was around, and stepped up his pilfering last year when he learned surveillance cameras were going to be installed. He estimates he took 300 to 400 items in 2007 alone, the statement says

The TU has obtained a copy of Lorello's four-page statement to police [PDF], in which he freely admits the thefts and describes various transactions. I'll have more on that statement after I've read it carefully. [More here]

Oh Mr. Lorello, there's a special place in hell ...

[Some of the news stories: Reuters, AP]