Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement that the alleged scheme "should send a wake-up call to museums that entrust valuable documents to persons who claim to be engaged in academic research."

Many are now reviewing their security procedures, trying to find a better balance between public access and protection.

The indictment says the two men researched which locations had the most valuable materials, "prepared lists containing the names of historical figures and other noteworthy individuals, and made notations referencing the value of signatures and documents authored or signed by the listed individuals."

They then visited the locations, and stole "objects of cultural heritage from the collections, which they subsequently sold or intended to sell," according to the charging document.

Savedoff, who lives on the 700 block of West End Ave. in New York, sometimes used the aliases Justin Ward and Jason James, the indictment says, while Landau traded on his name's cachet.

He calls himself "America's Presidential Historian" on his website, barryhlandau.com, which features photos of him with stars such as Catherine Zeta Jones and Katie Holmes, along with presidential wives and presidents, including Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

He claims to possess one of the largest collections of Oval Office memorabilia outside of presidential libraries and museums in his West 57th Street apartment, which features a china collection from Thomas Jefferson's inauguration. And he's written a coffee-table book about White House meals.

He's been profiled by The Washington Post and the Associated Press. But reporters, who once buoyed his reputation, have begun to chip away at the facade in recent days.

He claimed to have traveled to Moscow with Nixon, helped plan George W. Bush's second inauguration, and to have been a White House fellow during Lyndon B. Johnson's administration, but there's no record of any of it, The Washington Post reported this week.

FBI investigators raided Landau's New York home after his arrest in Maryland.

"The federal government will provide a firm and swift response to those that steal parts of our nation's history for their own private benefit," Richard McFeely, the special agent in charge of Baltimore's FBI field office, said in a statement. "Alleged crimes like this rob all Americans of the rich heritage that these museums preserve for present and future generations."

Baltimore Sun reporter Julie Baughman contributed to this article.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

Items reported stolen:

• Dec. 2: A number of historical documents, including seven "reading copies" of speeches given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his Treasury secretary, from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, N.Y. Prosecutors say he sold four of the copies for a total $35,000.

• March 17: A letter dated April 1, 1780, from Benjamin Franklin and John Paul Jones, from the New York Historical Society.

• July 9: Sixty documents from the F. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, including a land grant dated June 1, 1861, to a soldier from the Maryland Militia, War of 1812, signed by Abraham Lincoln.

Source: Maryland U.S. attorney's office

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