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Federal prosecutors consider new charges against alleged document thieves

Judge frees one man on bail and orders detention hearing for the other

By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

8:12 PM EDT, July 29, 2011

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Federal prosecutors said in court Friday that they're contemplating additional charges against two New York men accused in multistate thefts of historic documents uncovered this month when police said the pair targeted a Maryland museum.

The revelation came during the initial court appearances for Barry H. Landau, 63, and Jason J. Savedoff, 24, who were indicted in Baltimore's U.S. District Court a day earlier on charges of conspiracy and "theft of major artwork" from archives in Maryland and New York.

Wire fraud, stealing federal property from the National Archives and transferring stolen goods across state lines could be added to the charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Warwick said during the hearing. He argued that Landau should be held without bail while the investigation continues.

"The defendant has traveled extensively within the U.S. targeting museums and other repositories of … historical artifacts," Warwick said, calling Landau a flight risk and an economic danger. "He has engaged in repeated incidents of fraud" against archivists, along with private dealers and collectors.

A detention hearing is set for Monday afternoon in Landau's case. In a separate hearing, Savedoff was ordered released to his mother on a $250,000 cash bond and under a list of conditions. The younger man has no previous criminal record, according to a court investigator.

He was told to surrender his Canadian and U.S. passports, abide by a 10 p.m.-to-11 a.m. curfew, and to reside at a court-approved address with his mother, Antonia Schang, who came from Canada to supervise her son. She looked shaken during his hearing and declined to speak to reporters afterward.

Landau, who brags about being a renowned presidential historian and has a vast collection of memorabilia, was charged in 1977 with making a false statement on a passport application. The charge was dismissed.

At Friday's hearing, he appeared unwell and asked to sit for a moment. He ticked off to his lawyer a lengthy list of medications he requires, asked to see a doctor over the weekend and clutched his chest at one point, leading U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey to ask if he was "having heart problems."

Both men have been held in the city detention center since their arrests July 9 on state theft charges. An employee of the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore called police and said he saw Savedoff, who was accompanied by Landau, take a document from the H. Furlong Baldwin Library. More than 60 artifacts were later recovered from a library locker.

A federal grand jury indicted the pair Thursday on charges that they stole documents signed by Benjamin Franklin and Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt from the Maryland museum and two New York locations.

Warwick said investigators are concerned that Landau has "additional repositories of documents not yet discovered" that he could try to sell or destroy if released before trial. Warwick also said that investigators have evidence that Landau has attempted "to influence others involved in the case."

Savedoff has been ordered to have no contact with the older man.

The defendants were transferred to federal custody Friday. Savedoff was expected to be released Friday evening, though Landau was led back to the lockup.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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