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Press Release

New Mexico man suspected of stealing items from Montana Historical Society arraigned on charges

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

GREAT FALLS — A New Mexico man suspected of stealing items of significant historical value from the Montana Historical Society, including letters by the wife of renowned Western artist Charlie “C.M.” Russell, and then selling them on eBay appeared on Jan. 16 for arraignment on charges, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said today.

Brian Anthony D’Ambrosio, 49, Sante Fe, New Mexico, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with theft of major artwork, interstate transportation of stolen property and wire fraud. If convicted of the most serious crime, D’Ambrosio faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston presided. D’Ambrosio, who appeared by video, was released pending further proceedings.

The indictment alleges that from about April 2022 to September 2023, D’Ambrosio stole objects of cultural heritage that were more than 100 years old and worth more than $5,000 from the Montana Historical Society, a museum located in Helena. D’Ambrosio, while claiming to conduct research at the Montana Historical Society, stole items of significant historic value, including letters written by Nancy Russell, the wife of Western artist Charlie “C.M.” Russell. As alleged in the indictment, D’Ambrosio then sold and attempted to sell the items on eBay for a profit. D’Ambrosio fraudulently induced buyers to purchase the items by omitting that he had stolen them from the Montana Historical Society, making it appear as if he had authority to sell and transfer the items to others when he did not.

An indictment is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan G. Weldon and Jennifer S. Clark are prosecuting the case. The FBI and Helena Police Department conducted the investigation.

PACER case reference. 23-20.

The progress of cases may be monitored through the U.S. District Court Calendar and the PACER system. To establish a PACER account, which provides electronic access to review documents filed in a case, please visit To access the District Court’s calendar, please visit



Clair J. Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated January 17, 2024

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 24-17