Daniel Lorello, a Civil War expert with a criminal past, was fired Wednesday from his part-time position as manager of the bookstore at the New York State Military Museum.
Lance Ingmire of Saratoga Springs, president of the Friends of the New York State Military Museum, said “a high ranking state official” ordered him to terminate Lorello. He would not name the official.
The firing comes in the wake of news stories this week about Lorello, 59, a Rensselaer County resident and former state archivist. He spent two years in prison after confessing in 2008 that he took hundreds of documents from the New York State Archives between 1997 and early 2008 and sold some of them on eBay to pay bills and other expenses. Most of the documents have since been recovered, according to state officials.
The bookstore, which is near the main entrance to the military museum on Lake Avenue, is financed and operated by the Friends of the New York State Military Museum. Lorello was not a state employee but was employed by the Friends, a nonprofit organization that supports museum programs and provides volunteers at the museum.
Ingmire said this week Lorello, a longtime personal friend, was paid $11 per hour for 25 hours per week.
Eric Durr, a spokesman for the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, which operates the museum, said Tuesday the shop is a separate entity and shop employees do not have access to the museum’s large collection of military artifacts that date back to the Revolutionary War.
“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Ingmire said Wednesday, adding that Lorello deserved a second chance.
Ingmire, a Civil War enthusiast who is working on a history of the New York 95th Regiment that fought during the Civil War, met Lorello in the late 1980s. Lorello shared Ingmire’s passion for the Civil War — Lorello is the co-author of a 1999 book about Civil War archives pertaining to New York’s role in that war.
“He was beyond doing well,” Ingmire said about the job Lorello did during the roughly five months he worked at the bookshop. “He was contributing so much to our efforts.”
Ingmire said Lorello was organizing the Friends website and organizing and documenting books sold at the shop.
He said being forced to fire his friend was “one of the travesties of life” for him. He said the stories this week in local newspapers caused “collateral damage” to Lorello and his family.
Lorello offered to resign Tuesday, but Ingmire urged him to continue.
Ingmire said the Friends will be forced to close the store while they conduct a search for a new manager.
“He couldn’t find a job after searching for four or five months,” Ingmire said about Lorello. “When you put down a felony arrest [on a job application] who is going to hire you?
“The guy brought so much to the table. Now we suffer, the museum suffers, and the Lorellos suffer.”
Lorello declined a request for an interview.