BALTIMORE (AP) — An attorney for a presidential historian charged with the theft of such library treasures as papers signed by Abraham Lincoln and invitations to inaugural balls says there is no evidence against his client and he shouldn’t have been denied bail.
A request for a bail review was filed Wednesday for historian Barry Landau, attorney Steven D. Silverman said, calling the denial unreasonable.
Landau, 63, and Jason Savedoff, 24, both of New York City, were arrested and charged Saturday with theft of more than $100,000 after document thefts were reported at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, according to court documents.
Landau is a published author whose works include “The President’s Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy,” released in 2007.
A historical society employee told police that Savedoff and Landau had been acting suspiciously and called authorities after he saw Savedoff conceal a document in a portfolio and walk it out of the library, according to court documents.
The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore is a leading repository of artifacts and documents spanning much of the nation’s history, including its colonial beginnings.
A search of a locker at a building that Savedoff was carrying a key to turned up 60 documents, many of which Landau had signed out, according to court documents. The items included papers signed by Lincoln worth $300,000, numerous presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000, a signed Statue of Liberty commemoration valued at $100,000 and a signed Washington monument commemoration valued at $100,000, court documents state.
Silverman rejected the charges against the historian. Trial for both men has been set for Aug. 11.
“There’s really no evidence against him,” Silverman said Wednesday. “He has no idea what, if anything, the person he was with was doing.”
Online court records do not list an attorney for Savedoff and no phone listing could be found for him.
Silverman said the documents weren’t in Landau’s possession, he doesn’t have a record or a history of violence and all the allegedly stolen items were recovered.
He also said Landau doesn’t pose a danger to the community and there’s little risk of flight, and shouldn’t be held without bail.
“Usually where there is smoke there’s fire,” Silverman said. “Here’s a 60-some-year-old man and there’s never been any smoke around him.”
The FBI is involved in the investigation under a federal statute that covers thefts from museums. An FBI spokesman says Landau’s midtown Manhattan apartment was search on Monday.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)