Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - This story from the office of Montana U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich fired me up because it had to do with an individual who stole letters from the wife of renowned western artist Charles M. Russell and then tried to sell them on eBay.

I took personal affront to the theft since my grandmother knew Charlie Russell when she was a very young woman, and she handed down to me a 1937 copy of Russell’s iconic ‘Trails Plowed Under’, which is now one of my proudest possessions.

Laslovich told the story of how 49-year-old Brian Anthony D’Ambrosio of New Mexico acquired the letters and planned to sell them.

The Defendant Admitted to Stealing the Russell Letters and Then Sell Them

“This individual actually lives in New Mexico, but would travel to Montana and specifically the Montana Historical Society under the guise of conducting research, and instead was stealing some, really, in my view, sacred artifacts from the Historical Society related to Charlie Russell.”

Laslovich provided more details about the theft.

“Specifically, he stole original letters written by Nancy Russell, the wife of Charlie Russell,” he said. “These are items that were over 100 years old. The value is excessive. And then he didn't just steal them, but was attempting to tell them on eBay to make money.”

Laslovich himself had a close-up and personal story of the work of the historic Montana artist.

U.S. Attorney Laslovich Had His Own Memories of Charles M. Russell

“I used to serve in the Montana Legislature and in the House chamber, there is that original painting that he did for the House of Representatives that is as extraordinary as anything else that I've seen,” he said. “So this is something that we take seriously, and so when we learned about this, and they asked us if we were interested in pursuing it, we were all in.”

Laslovich understood the passion that all Montanans have about the legendary painter, sculptor, and storyteller.

READ MORE: Missoula News - Crime Reports

Laslovich Understood the Passion Montanans have for Charlie Russell

“We want to protect what all of us who grew up here in Montana, of course, your grandmother Peter, who knew him, in order for that memory and legacy to be preserved and protected, and this is a small way to do that, by holding people accountable who try to steal it from us,” he said. “His sentencing is set for mid-November, and he's facing up to 10 years in federal prison, up to a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release after any prison term.”

Russell died in Great Falls, Montana in 1926 at the age of 62. His wife, Nancy Cooper Russell also died in Great Falls in 1926.

The Charles M. Russell Museum is also located in Great Falls.

The Amazing New Missoula County Fairgrounds Grandstands

From up close setting to rodeos and other events to the expansive views from the top, the new grandstands at the Missoula County Fairgrounds are perfect for everyone

Gallery Credit: Dennis Bragg

More From Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM & 98.3 FM