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Maryland Man Admits Stealing LOC Books

Correction Appended

A former Maryland resident admitted Monday that he tried to steal hundreds of books from the Library of Congress by pretending to represent a nonprofit called “The Book Exchange.—

Vince Edward Karl Wells, 42, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property, according to a press release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Wells faces a maximum of one year in prison, though officials said his sentence probably won’t be more than six months, or possibly even probation.

Wells, who now lives in Georgia, first approached the Library on July 30, claiming he wanted to obtain books from the Library for an adult literacy program, according to the release. He hoped to get books from the Library’s Surplus Books Program, which donates books to “qualifying educational institutions, public bodies and nonprofit tax-exempt organizations.—

Over the next couple of days, Wells worked with staffers to pick out 350 books to be shipped and 27 to take home personally. But, as investigators later learned, he planned to sell the books online for a profit.

According to the release, Wells told a Library contractor that “she could pick out the books and mail them to him so Wells could sell them on, and that there was a lot of money to be made.— The contractor declined and later told OIG agents about the conversation.

On Aug. 10, Wells admitted to the OIG his plan to sell the books. He also returned the 27 books he had taken; the remaining 350 were never shipped.

It’s allegedly not Wells’ first theft: Officials say he had also put office supplies online — such as law books, office supplies and computer printer ink cartridges — that matched those at the law firm where he worked.

Correction: Nov. 10, 2009

The article misattributed information to the LOC Office of the Inspector General. All information comes from a press release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.