The former archivist at The Mariners’ Museum who stole thousands of museum documents and sold them on the Internet was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison.
Lester F. Weber, of Newport News, sold at least 3,500 documents — from collections he was supposed to oversee — on eBay under his wife’s name. The items included everything from brochures and boarding passes for old ships to a lawsuit against the company that owned the Titanic.
Weber made $172,357 on the fraudulent sales between 2002 and 2006, according to court filings. But the museum estimates the worth of the stolen items at more than $500,000.
“You broke the trust of the public,” said U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith, saying the public has an interest in preservation of historical artifacts.
As an archivist, Weber helped oversee a museum collection containing more than a million documents. Testimony revealed he had access to documents that many other museum employees didn’t have, and changed an archiving system to make it appear that some of the stolen documents never existed.