U.S. historian sentenced for stealing Lincoln letter

NEW YORK Sat Sep 20, 2008 3:24am IST

Related Topics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. historian who pleaded guilty to stealing letters written by former U.S. Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday.

Edward Renehan, 52, pleaded guilty in May to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property and admitted stealing a March 1, 1840, letter by Lincoln and two letters dated Aug. 9, 1791, and Dec. 29, 1778, by Washington.

The letters, part of the personal collection of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, were taken from the Theodore Roosevelt Association. Renehan had been the acting director of the New York-based historical and cultural group.

Renehan later sold the letters to a New York gallery for $97,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said.

Jim Bruns, head of the Roosevelt association, attended the sentencing at Manhattan federal court. He told reporters the letters were "not significant to the shaping of America," but were treasured by Roosevelt, who displayed them in his library.

In sentencing Renehan, who faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin called the case "baffling."

"By all accounts, Mr. Renehan is a pre-eminent historian and biographer, and yet he engaged in this stealing," said Chin. "It's really hard to understand. I'm not sure that I've heard a convincing explanation."

Renehan, who has written six books including one on the Kennedys, said he has suffered from bipolar disorder, which at the time of the thefts, from 2005 to 2006, was undiagnosed.

"At the time that I took those letters... I was on an extended manic episode," an emotional Renehan said in his plea for leniency.

He was ordered to report to prison by Jan. 2.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Canada Shooting

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Mali becomes sixth West African nation hit by Ebola.  Full Article 

Fighting Islamic State

Fighting Islamic State

Ground offensive against Islamic State months away in Iraq - U.S.   Full Article 

Hong Kong Unrest

Hong Kong Unrest

Protesters in Hong Kong to vote on government proposals  Full Article 

Quest For Statehood

Quest For Statehood

Chief Palestinian negotiator issues statehood ultimatum  Full Article 

Fukushima Probe

Fukushima Probe

Japan prosecutors delay ruling on possible Fukushima indictments  Full Article 

Held For Espionage

Held For Espionage

Canadian couple accused of spying in China held in near isolation, son says  Full Article 

Climate Deal

Climate Deal

EU strikes compromise to set new climate target.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage