National Archives Recovers Stolen Documents
Press Release · Monday, February 11, 2002

Washington, DC

The National Archives and Records Administration announced that it has recovered 59 historical records that were taken from the National Archives Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives in Philadelphia, PA and subsequently sold to manuscript dealers and collectors.

The U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia has charged Shawn P. Aubitz on February 11, 2002 with one count of theft of government property. Mr. Aubitz is a former National Archives employee. The estimated dollar value of the theft is approximately $200,000.

Mr. Aubitz is charged with taking 71 Presidential pardons signed by Presidents James Madison, James Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Rutherford B. Hayes. Mr. Aubitz is also charged with stealing two dozen other historical documents relating to land grants and to the slave trade and approximately 316 photographs taken by astronauts in space and on the moon.

The loss of documents was discovered in March 2000, when a National Park Service employee notified the National Archives that a possible item from its holdings was for sale on eBay, an online auction site. Investigators assigned to the National Archives Office of the Inspector General discovered four National Archives documents being offered for sale through eBay. To date, 59 documents belonging to the National Archives have been recovered. Efforts to locate the remaining items are continuing.

"I am outraged by this theft of Federal records by a former National Archives employee," said U.S. Archivist John W. Carlin. "Our employees are entrusted with the most important documentary evidence of our nation's history and this individual has abused that trust. I applaud the efforts of the investigators and the U.S. Attorney's Office and hope that Mr. Aubitz will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

"In the meantime, I have appointed a high-level management task-force to review internal security measures. A preliminary set of recommendations are under review and a number of new measures are already in place."

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail. Visit the National Archives Home Page on the World Wide Web at


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