Sentence stands in theft of historical items

A years-long sentence for the theft of more than $100,000 in historical documents and artifacts will stand in the wake of a Friday hearing.

Judge Gregory Hammond sentenced Chad D. McLaughlin, 36, to 37 to 74 months incarceration back on charges including burglary, theft and theft by deception.

The burglaries are alleged to have occurred between July 2020 and March 20, 2021, at 201 Main St. in Tidioute.

The residence was reportedly built by a Civil War major — Eliot Curtis — “and contained a large amount of his belongings,” according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Troopers identify that the collection included at least 36 pipes as well as other historical items such as U.S. Liberty coins, Curtis’ diary, a photograph, book and five antique wooden clocks. A signed letter by President William McKinley was also among the items taken.

Troopers received a call from the Tidioute postmaster, who had seen a release regarding the theft of antique pipes. The postmaster “recalled sometime in January while she was working Chad McLaughlin had entered the post office to mail out a package.” She asked what it was “to which McLaughlin responded that it contained antique tobacco pipes.”

Troopers went back to the owner indicating that a suspect had been identified and the owner allegedly told police they had “located an eBay account under the name ‘Chad16351” and that he had reviewed “many of the items sold on the account … (that) were stolen from his house.”

At the time of sentencing, statements were made that this conduct stemmed from a gambling addiction.

McLaughlin’s attorney, Henry Borger, asked Friday for his client to be made boot camp eligible in the state prison system.

“(We) have a victim that will never be made whole,” Borger said. “My client knows that.”

Hammond said that participation in boot camp could shorten the sentence down to six months.

Borger said the change would allow his client to “address the restitution issue much more quickly” and called it the “best possible outcome for everybody.”

Senior Deputy Attorney General Evan Lowry, however, declined to waive the requirements that would have made McLaughlin eligible for the boot camp program.

Hammond was critical of McLaughlin not paying back any restitution between when he was charged in 2020 and sentenced in 2023 and said it is “difficult to assign a noble motive” at this stage.

He added that McLaughlin getting out of prison would not “line the pockets” of the victim and that the 37-74 months imposed was an “entirely appropriate sentence for this type of conduct.”


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