NEW YORK (AP) - A man who pleaded guilty to stealing the gun Theodore Roosevelt used in the Spanish-American War's most famous battle will be sentenced early next year and is relieved to be putting the matter behind him, his lawyer said.
"This has been weighing on him for the past 16 years," attorney Tom Sommerville said of his client, Anthony Joseph Tulino. "He is a very different person today than he was 16 years ago."
Tulino, a 55-year-old postal worker from DeLand, Fla., pleaded guilty Thursday to violating a law designed to protect cherished U.S. antiquities when he stole the gun, valued at up to $500,000, from a Long Island museum in 1990. He faces up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
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Tulino, who lived in New York at the time of the theft, will be sentenced in March, his lawyer said by e-mail Friday.
Roosevelt carried the 1892 double-action six-shot revolver when he was serving as the regimental commander of the Rough Riders during the charge up Cuba's San Juan Hill in 1898.
The gun was stolen from the Sagamore Hill National Historical Site, Roosevelt's former home in Oyster Bay, N.Y. The revolver, a cornerstone of Sagamore Hill's collection, had been in a display case that had no alarm.
The gun, kept in a closet at Tulino's Florida home, was recovered by the FBI this year after a tip from Tulino's best friend and was returned to Sagamore Hill, which was the 26th president's home from 1885 until his death in 1919.
The .38-caliber Colt revolver was in the armory of the USS Maine when the battleship mysteriously sank in Havana Harbor on Feb. 15, 1898, leading to the war. It was recovered during a salvage mission by one of Roosevelt's relatives, who gave it to him.