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Press Release

Former Cambridge Man Sentenced for Theft of Old South Church Diary

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A former Cambridge man was sentenced today for identity fraud related to the sale of a valuable diary from the 1600s.                    

Michael Ford, 66, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole to 16 months in prison, half to be served in jail and half in community confinement, for using the identity of another man in August 2008 in connection with the sale a diary stolen from Boston’s historic Old South Church.  Ford pleaded guilty in November 2014.  

The diary was written by James Hull in 1652 and contained some unpublished sermons that had been given to soldiers before they departed to fight Native Americans.  It had been stolen from the Old South Church in Boston earlier in the summer of 2008.  On Aug. 11, 2008, a man sold the diary to Gray Booksellers in Harvard Square for $750, using the driver’s license of another man as identification.  Within 40 minutes of this transaction, Ford had obtained the check and the driver’s license and, using the license as identification, cashed the check at a bank in Harvard Square.  Gray Booksellers thereafter realized the diary was valuable and sold it to a collector in Rhode Island for $40,000, but upon learning that the diary had been stolen from the Church, the bookstore bought it back and restored it to the Church.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Vincent B. Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Field Division; Boston Police Commissioner William Evans; Harvard University Police Francis D. Riley; and Boston University Police Chief Thomas G. Robbins made the announcement today.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert E. Richardson of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.

Updated March 2, 2015