Artifact thief working in military museum
Ex-state archivist Lorello running bookstore
SARATOGA SPRINGS A man who did prison time for stealing hundreds of items from the New York State Archives has landed a job at the state’s military museum, home to thousands of artifacts dating back to the Revolutionary War.
Former state archivist Daniel Lorello is working in the New York State Military Museum’s bookstore, which is run by a volunteer support group.
Lorello isn’t a state employee and doesn’t have access to collections, said Eric Durr, a spokesman for the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, which operates the museum.
A volunteer group, Friends of the New York State Military Museum, provides docents for the museum and operates the store. The nonprofit organization isn’t required to consult the state on its hiring, Durr said, referring to the group as “a separate organization that made a separate and independent decision.”
Lorello, a Rensselaer County resident, did not want to discuss his situation with a reporter nor be photographed.
Lance Ingmire, president of the Friends of the New York State Military Museum, said the appointment of his longtime friend last summer as manager of the group’s book shop at the museum has been very successful.
“To a person, every member of the board has had their expectations exceeded by his performance,” Ingmire said Tuesday.
“I feel a sense of pride in reaching out and helping a friend,” Ingmire said about the appointment of Lorello.
The friends group is chartered by the state Department of Education, Lorello’s former employer. He worked for more than two decades as an archivist and records management specialist for the archives, which falls under the agency’s umbrella.
In early 2008, he was charged with grand larceny after stealing hundreds of documents and other artifacts. Authorities said he sold many of them on eBay.
He pleaded guilty later that year and was sentenced to two to six years in prison. Lorello was released in April 2010, made nearly $130,000 in restitution and handed over his personal collection to the state. Officials said they recovered more than 1,600 items he stole from the archives over a 10-year period starting in 1997.
Lorello, a 59-year-old expert in Civil War documents and photographs, currently works on the same floor where the military museum’s main exhibits are displayed. The museum is home to a vast collection of Civil War artifacts, including photos, uniforms, weapons and the nation’s largest collection of battle flags. Many of the museum’s artifacts, some dating back centuries, are kept in storage areas one floor below the bookstore.
Ingmire, 62, is a Civil War enthusiast who has been working for some years on a history of the 95th New York Regiment in the Civil War. He is also the organizer of the annual Civil War Living History Encampment in Congress Park in Saratoga Springs.
He said he met Lorello in the late 1980s while doing research on the 95th Regiment at the State Archives in Albany, where Lorello worked.
“Dan couldn’t do enough to teach me everything about the Civil War,” Ingmire said, introducing him to other Civil War enthusiasts and authors, as well as members of the Capital District Civil War Roundtable.
“The real Dan is a caring, helpful and highly intelligent historian,” Ingmire said.
Ingmire said he has always condemned Lorello’s criminal acts.
“He got caught, pleaded guilty and took his lumps,” Ingmire said.
Ingmire said he presented Lorello’s entire history to the board of directors of the friends group, and they voted to give him a six-month probationary appointment as manager of the museum gift shop.
Lorello is paid $11 per hour by the group (no state money is involved) and works a 25-hour week.
“He is so embarrassed that the museum might suffer a black eye, he was willing to quit,” Ingmire said about the media attention concerning Lorello’s employment.