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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BOSTON, Mass. - Two local men were charged today with the theft of an official government document containing the date of birth, address and signature of former American astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Gregory K. Null, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigation
announced today that THOMAS CHAPMAN, 50, of Malden and PAUL BRICKMAN, 50, of Chelsea, were charged by criminal complaint with stealing and conveying an official record of the United States.

The complaint alleges that on March 13, 2010, CHAPMAN, was working at Boston’s Logan International Airport as a Customs and Border Protection Technician when Mr. Armstrong passed through a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint. After assisting Mr. Armstrong with his bags, CHAPMAN collected the customs declarations form (CDF), which had been completed by Mr. Armstrong. CHAPMAN allegedly did not file the CDF with the proper Department of Homeland Security authorities.

It is alleged that on March 14, 2010, CHAPMAN brought Mr. Armstrong’s CDF to the Chelsea home of his friend BRICKMAN, informing him that he obtained the CDF when he met Mr. Armstrong at the airport. According to the complaint, CHAPMAN and BRICKMAN, in an attempt to profit from the possession of the CDF, contacted an individual, now cooperating with the government (“CW”), who specializes in collectible signatures to facilitate the sale of the CDF with Mr. Armstrong’s signature. It is further alleged that later that day, the CW met with CHAPMAN and BRICKMAN and informed them that he could sell the CDF, and obtained possession of the CDF before departing.

According to the complaint, the CW brought the CDF to an auction company that operates a public website dedicated to the sale of historical documents and memorabilia. Bidding for Mr. Armstrong’s CDF began on May 22, 2010 with a starting bid of $200, and reached $1,026 before the auction company halted the bidding, in response to concerns raised by a third-party bidder in regard to the legality of selling an official government document. Members of the investigative team recovered Mr. Armstrong’s CDF shortly after the auction company removed it from its inventory.
If convicted on these charges, CHAPMAN and BRICKMAN each face up to 10 years imprisonment, to be followed by up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Fisher of Ortiz’s Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit.

The details contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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