18 Months for Man Who Took From National Archives - NBC4 Washington

18 Months for Man Who Took From National Archives

Man noticed donated media on eBay



    An ex-employee at the National Archives is sentenced after admitting to stealing $80,000 in protected audio recordings, then selling them on eBay. News4's Richard Jordan reports. (Published Thursday, May 3, 2012)

    A man trusted to protect America's most valuable documents and files admitted to stealing them and selling them on eBay. The retired National Archives supervisor and archivist was sentenced Thursday.

    Leslie Waffen admitted taking audio and visual material home and selling it to the highest bidder. J. David Goldin reported the Internet sales.

    Goldin gave Waffen a 1937 interview with Babe Ruth for the Archives and later saw the donated material for sale on eBay.

    “I knew I owned that record at one time and there was only one of those records,” Goldin said.

    Waffen worked at the National Archives for more than 40 years. He’ll spend the next year and a half in prison for taking more than $80,000 worth of media, including an eyewitness account of the 1937 Hindenburg crash. Waffen also sold an interview with major league legend Jackie Robinson -- appraised at $100 -- for less than $16 online.

    Only about 20 of the eBay buyers have been found so far.

    “I violated God’s fourth commandment,” Waffen said in court. “In doing so I have scarred my soul.

    The National Archives now struggles to mend a tarnished reputation.

    “This is a time when federal workers are under the gun and are criticized and we take on the characteristics of a few limited poor bad guys,” said Paul Brachfeld, of Archives administration.

    Waffen will be on probation for two years following his 18-month sentence. The matter of restitution has not been resolved.