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Man Pleads To Lincoln Papers’ Theft

August 28, 1998

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ A researcher pleaded guilty to stealing about 200 documents related to Abraham Lincoln and trying to auction several off.

Sean Brown, 29, could get up to seven years in prison at sentencing in October.

Brown, a former researcher for the Abraham Lincoln Papers Project, sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, admitted Thursday that he took the documents in 1995 from the archives of the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Prosecutor Patrick Kelley said a ``fairly large number″ of the documents have been recovered.

The theft came to light after the Historic Preservation Agency bought a number of Lincoln-era legal documents at a New York City auction in 1997. The agency soon discovered that it had paid for documents it already supposedly owned.

The documents were mostly legal papers involving two of Lincoln’s law partners, a Lincoln political ally and Senate opponent Stephen Douglas.

Brown’s lawyer said his client will also plead guilty to charges he stole additional legal documents, including two signed by Lincoln when he was a lawyer.

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