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:

SAARC Summit

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ferguson Riots

Ferguson Riots

National Guard, police curb Ferguson unrest as protests swell across U.S.  Full Article 

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong Protests

Hong Kong riot police clear protest site, arrest student leaders.  Full Article 

Special Report

Special Report

Putin's allies channelled billions to Ukraine oligarch.  Full Article 

Polls 2016

Polls 2016

Romney tops Republican poll for '16; ahead of Clinton in election.  Full Article 

Syrian Crisis

Syrian Crisis

Russia vows support for Syria's Assad to combat "terrorism".  Full Article 

Tackling Jihadis

Tackling Jihadis

INSIGHT - Secular France moves to confront jihadism after slow start.  Full Article 

Award Backlash

Award Backlash

Save the Children under pressure, 100,000 oppose award for Tony Blair.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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