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Author charged with stealing Montana historical artifacts to sell on eBay


A journalist and author who specializes in books about Montana has been charged with stealing priceless documents from the Montana Historical Society and then trying to sell them on eBay.

Federal prosecutors say Brian Anthony D’Ambrosio, 49, of Santa Fe, N.M., had visited the museum on several occasions in 2022 and 2023, purportedly to do research for a book, and snuck out with numerous valuable artifacts.

Among the items D’Ambrosio is accused of taking were letters written by Nancy Russell to her husband, the famed frontier painter C.M. Russell. Other items included stock certificates for companies founded in Montana in the 1800s and programs to historical events.

According to court documents, D’Ambrosio placed the items up for sale on eBay
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with the impression that they belonged to him and he had the right to sell them. He was eventually caught when an undercover FBI agent began corresponding with him about buying some of the items, prosecutors said.

D’Ambrosio pleaded not guilty by video at his arraignment in Great Falls, Mont., and was released without bail. A message left with his attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

D’Ambrosio lived in Montana for many years and has written for several newspapers there, according to his author bio online. He has written numerous books about Montana, including “Montana Murders: Notorious and Unsolved,” “Montana Entertainers: Famous and Almost Forgotten,” and “Shot in the Dark: A History of Big Sky Cinema.”

He has also written books on other topics, including a biography of actor Charles Bronson, several biographies of boxers and a book about notorious National Hockey League enforcers.

A spokesperson for the Montana Historical Society said the museum, based in Helena, Mont., was cooperating with authorities and had been reviewing its security protocols. 


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