Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Renehan Comments on Thefts

A kind reader forwarded this article from the 29 May issue of the Providence Journal: in the piece, historian Edward Renehan comments on the bipolar disorder he believes led him to steal numerous letters from the Theodore Roosevelt Association and sell them. Renehan said "When I look back at what a madman I was … I’m stunned at what I did. The manic behavior is your enemy, but it’s also who you are." He added that his episodes "leave him feeling 'invulnerable and answerable to no one.' There is a temptation to 'skate near the edge and break the rules.'"

Renehan's lawyer told the paper he intends to urge leniency for his client (meaning no jail time, apparently). Peter Brill said "We don’t really think jail is appropriate under the circumstances. This was a single aberrant act in an otherwise honorable life." Except that it wasn't. Renehan pleaded guilty to stealing three letters, and he's still facing charges in Nassau County for the theft of another letter and the National Parks Service Investigative Services Branch believes he nabbed at least three additional items and sold them. So "single aberrant act" doesn't fly. Sorry.

Thankfully the defense isn't flying with the head of the TRA, James Bruns, who said "'My concern is that he did not steal one time. He consigned the stolen letters to a seller and cashed the checks 'multiple times.'" Bruns added that the Association is prepared to file civil suits in pursuit of additional items they believe were taken by Renehan.