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Former cadet, Medford grad to be jailed for theft

From staff and wire reports

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. ' A former cadet and South Medford High School graduate has been sentenced to six months in military prison after he stole artifacts worth &

36;12,000 from a renowned collection of aviation mementos and literature.

Dustin Rotbart, 19, was sentenced July 19 after a court-martial panel determined he stole coins carried in the Apollo moon landings and rare books from the Col. Richard Gimbel Aeronautical Library.

Rotbart apparently had little trouble taking the artifacts from the library, academy officials said.

The cadet acted as though he was reading in the Gimbel Library and proceeded to take the books, academy officials said in an e-mail to The (Colorado Springs) Gazette.

The academy said the April 8 theft included one of the first literary works focusing on flight: The Life and Adventure of Peter Wilkins, A Cornish Man, printed in 1751.

— Rotbart's roommates reported to commanders after they noticed books from the collection in an open backpack as Rotbart was packing to leave the academy over an unrelated disciplinary matter, academy officials said. The coins and books were returned to the collection unharmed.

For more than 30 years, cadets were allowed to inspect the collection unsupervised because curators trusted the cadet honor code banning lying, cheating and stealing or tolerating cadets who break rules. Now, cadets must be escorted and must sign in and out when they enter the climate-controlled area housing the collection.

So far, an inventory of the full collection has determined that no items are missing, the academy said.

Rotbart, who has no criminal record in Oregon, graduated in the top 5 percent of his class at South Medford in 2004. He was selected to join the Air Force Academy Cadet Class of 2008 from more than 19,000 applicants from across the country. His younger brother, Sean, was class valedictorian and commencement speaker at South Medford in June and is also a cadet at the Academy.