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Author allegedly involved in stealing historic artifacts in Montana

Brian D’Ambrosio, a 49-year-old author from New Mexico renowned for his books on Montana history, is facing serious allegations of stealing and selling artifacts from the Montana Historical Society. The indictment against D’Ambrosio includes 10 counts, such as theft of major artwork, interstate transportation of stolen property, and wire fraud.

D’Ambrosio’s literary contributions encompass various aspects of Montana’s history, including works on the life of Montana boxer Marvin Camel, the history of cinema in Montana, and a book documenting National Football League players and coaches from the state. Notably, his book about Camel was recognized as a finalist for the High Plains Award.

Court documents reveal a disturbing timeline of events between April 2022 and September 2023. During this period, D’Ambrosio purportedly visited the Montana Historical Society in Helena under the guise of conducting research. The accusations suggest that he unlawfully took items from the archives and subsequently listed them for sale on the online marketplace eBay.

Among the alleged stolen items are letters written by Nancy Russell, wife of renowned artist Charlie Russell, an 1889 Montana Constitution Convention flag and program, an early 1900s Ravalli County Sheriff’s card, and a 1905 letter from Centennial Brewing located in Butte.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) became involved in the case, deploying an undercover agent to contact D’Ambrosio with the intent of purchasing some of the purportedly stolen artifacts. This development sheds light on the severity of the accusations and the efforts made by law enforcement to address the alleged criminal activities.

The implications of these charges are significant, not only for D’Ambrosio personally but also for the literary and historical communities that have engaged with his works. The alleged theft of valuable historical artifacts raises questions about the safeguarding of cultural heritage and the responsibilities of individuals entrusted with access to archival collections.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the case against Brian D’Ambrosio underscores the importance of preserving and protecting historical artifacts, prompting reflection on the ethical responsibilities associated with researching and documenting cultural heritage.

By: Montana Newsroom staff

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