The respect for tradition and local history took another hit recently when a worker in a Syracuse recycling center found the broken pieces of a historic plaque honoring a Civil War era figure. The plaque had been reported stolen from a monument located in Onondaga County, and the recycling employee reported his find to the authorities. After investigating, the New York State Police then arrested two men for the criminal offense of falsifying criminal records and for criminal possession of stolen property.
It unclear how the police came to have evidence on the two men, but it seems that authorities are accusing them of selling the pieces as scrap to the recycling center. That may also explain the charge of falsifying business records, which the authorities may be claiming had to do with paperwork the defendants submitted in the sales transaction. The plaque honored a man who served as a New York volunteer in the Civil War.
As a Union soldier, he was detailed to the house where President Abraham Lincoln was taken after the shooting and where Lincoln ultimately died. The crime of criminal possession of stolen property is a misdemeanor if the property is valued at less than $1,000. Stolen property over $1,000 raises the offense to a felony punishable by imprisonment up to four years. As the value of the stolen property increases, the potential criminal punishment also increases.
Defense counsel will therefore be concerned about keeping the value low. Proof of the value would probably have to be established by the testimony of dealers and collectors of Civil War memorabilia. With respect to the required criminal intent, the criminal offense requires “knowingly” possessing stolen property. Defense counsel may adopt a strategy of attempting to defend on the premise that the defendants had no idea that the plaque had been removed from a public monument or that it was otherwise stolen.
Source: syracuse.com, “Pair accused of stealing, scrapping plaque honoring local Civil War figure“, Patrick Lohmann, Aug. 11, 2016