WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The grandson of late U.S. naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison has been charged with stealing historical records related to his Pulitzer Prize-winning grandfather, federal authorities said on Tuesday.
Samuel L. Morison, 69, of Crofton, Maryland, appeared in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
He is accused of offering to sell to a bookstore owner U.S. records relating to his grandfather’s work during World War Two, when President Franklin Roosevelt assigned him to write a history of wartime American naval operations.
The bookstore owner is alleged to have taken the records on consignment to sell them on eBay. Agents with the National Archives and Records Administration found that the documents offered online belonged to the Naval Historical Center.
A search of Morison’s residence turned up about 34 boxes of his grandfather’s papers suspected of being taken from the naval archives. Morison was a part-time researcher at the archives from March 2010, the statement said.
Morison faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for theft of government property. Under his pre-trial release, he is barred from visiting libraries and archives without court approval.
The older Morison wrote a 15-volume history of U.S. naval operations during World War Two, later rising to the rank of rear admiral. He won Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Christopher Columbus and of Revolutionary War sailor John Paul Jones.
Reporting by Ian Simpson