AN Virginia The National Guard sergeant – who had already faced 1 year in prison – was sentenced to 18 months probation on Wednesday after being convicted of stealing Second World War dog tags from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Maryland.
Robert Rumsby, 30, admitted to taking the identification plates that belonged to four American airmen killed in plane crashes in 1944, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court last May. Rumsby said his wife is the niece of one of the dead airmen, so he gave the dog tags to her grandmother as a gift, and said he gave another one to a relative of one of the deceased airmen.
Rumsby added that his mission was to give the tags to the families of the dead soldiers he met while researching a plane crash that killed his great uncle, according to Stars and Stripes.
"I think the intention was there. I think the approach was wrong. Even at the time, I knew the approach was wrong," said Rumsby. the plug last May. "I took four identification tags from these groups of records specifically for families that I knew would value them."
US magistrate judge Thomas DiGirolamo said the sentence was handed down to promote respect for the law and protect the "national treasures" stored in the National Archives of Maryland.
Rumsby's defense attorney Peter Fayne argued that his client was not motivated by greed.
"His heart and intention were in the right place, but he takes full responsibility for the serious mistake he made," said Fayne.
Rumsby is said to have held his daughter in his arms during the hearing, adding that he sent a letter to National Archives officials in 2011, asking if dog tags could be released to soldiers' relatives. He said he had no answer.
All identification tags were returned to the archives, according to Christian Naylor, NARA's director of operations.
DiGirolamo also ordered Rumsby to pay a $ 5,000 fine.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.