Theft from Civil War battlefield ends in prison time

March 23, 2012

A Petersburg, Va., man will spend a year and a day in federal prison for plundering the local battlefield of thousands of artifacts, according to the Progress-Index.. John J. Santo, who lived two miles from the Petersburg National Battlefield , pleaded guilty to the charges of unlawfully taking Civil War relics from the battlefield on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Richmond and was sentenced Wednesday.

His house was searched last year and investigators found more than 9,000 Civil War items including belt buckles, bullets and buttons. They also recovered a journal that the 52-year-old man kept over a four-year period in which he meticulously recorded every trip to the battlefield and what he found. The total theft, according to reports, was 18,000 bullets, 91 buttons, 68 fuses, 31 cannonballs and shells, 13 buckles, seven breastplates and five saber tips. He was caught with the aid of motion-detection cameras.

Not all of those items were recovered, leading investigators to conclude Santo had sold a number of the artifacts, including half of the bullets.

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