Lester F. Weber, of Newport News, sold at least 3,500 documents — from collections he was supposed to oversee — on eBay under his wife's name. The items included everything from brochures and boarding passes for old ships to a lawsuit against the company that owned the Titanic.Noting that Weber had violated the public trust and that his crimes had taken place over a long period of time, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith gave him a 48-month sentence instead of the 33-41 month sentence recommended in the federal sentencing guidelines.
Weber made $172,357 on the fraudulent sales between 2002 and 2006, according to court filings. But the museum estimates the worth of the stolen items at more than $500,000.
Weber's wife, Lori E. Childs, was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment for filing a false tax return.
I'm glad that the Judge Smith is among the growing number of jurists who recognize that the theft of records is not a trivial offense, and I hope that Weber's former colleagues are actively supporting one another as they come to grips with the personal and professional ramifications of his deeds. My colleagues and I know exactly how they feel.