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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Grandson Of Naval Historian Charged With Stealing Historical Records Relating To His Grandfather

Baltimore, Maryland - A criminal complaint was filed late yesterday under seal charging Samuel L. Morison, age 69, of Crofton, Maryland, with theft of government property, specifically, historical records related to his grandfather, Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. Morison was arrested today. The complaint was unsealed at his initial appearance held earlier today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Morison was released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services. One of the conditions of his release is that he is prohibited from visiting libraries and archives without prior court approval.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on April 12, 2014, Morison allegedly offered to sell records relating to Rear Admiral (RADM) Morison’s work during World War II to the owner of a bookstore, who subsequently agreed to take possession of the records, place them on consignment through his shop and sell them using eBay. On May 12, 2014, special agents assigned to the Archival Recovery Team (ART) with the National Archives and Records Administration reviewed the historical records being offered for sale through eBay. The records were determined to belong to the Naval History and Heritage Command, Operation Archives Branch, Naval Historical Center (Navy Archives), and to be the property of the U.S. government.

The affidavit alleges that on May 21, 2014, a search warrant was executed at Morison’s residence and approximately 34 boxes of government records and property stolen from the Navy Archives were seized. The investigation revealed that Morison was a part-time researcher at the Navy Archives from March 19, 2010, and had access to the records, known as the “Office Files of RADM Morison Papers.” Morison was never given authority to remove the records from the Navy Archives.

Morison faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for theft of government property.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised NCIS and NARA Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney James G. Warwick, who is prosecuting the case.

Updated January 26, 2015