60 Minutes Presents: Crime and Punishment

Steve Kroft hosts a special hour of 60 Minutes including the capture of "Whitey" Bulger; the murder of a neo-Nazi leader; and, the largest archival theft in U.S. history

The following script is from "60 Minutes Presents: Crime and Punishment" which aired on March 2, 2014.

Good evening, I'm Steve Kroft. Tonight on 60 Minutes Presents, three stories about crime and punishment. We begin with "The Gaskos."

Charlie and Carol Gasko were an elderly couple who moved to Santa Monica, Calif., sometime in early 1997 to begin a new phase of their life. For the next 14 years they did almost nothing that was memorable. And they would be of absolutely no interest, if it weren't for the fact that Charlie Gasko turned out to be James "Whitey" Bulger, the notorious Boston gangster, and longtime fugitive who recently began serving two life sentences. Carol Gasko was actually Catherine Greig, Whitey's long time girlfriend and caregiver.

As we first told you in November, the story of how they managed to elude an international manhunt for so long while hiding in plain sight is interesting. And tonight you'll hear it from the Gaskos' neighbors and from federal agents who finally unraveled the case, with the help of a boob job and an alley cat.

The Gaskos

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If you were forced into retirement, with a comfortable nest egg, and a desire to be left completely alone there is no place better place than Santa Monica, Calif. This low key, seaside suburb of L.A. is shared by transients and tourists, hippies and hedonists, celebrities and lots of senior citizens attracted to the climate and an abundance of inexpensive rent-controlled apartments, just a few blocks from the ocean. Places like the Princess Eugenia on Third St., which is where Charlie and Carol Gasko, a childless couple from Chicago, lived for 14 years without attracting much attention from long time neighbors or landlords. Josh Bond is the building manager.

Steve Kroft: What were they like?

Josh Bond: They were-- like, the nice retired old couple that lived in the apartment next to me.

Steve Kroft: Good tenants?

Josh Bond: Excellent tenants. Never complained. Always paid rent on time.

Steve Kroft: In cash.

Josh Bond: In cash.

Janus Goodwin lived down the hall.

Janus Goodwin: They had nothing. And they never went out. They never had food delivered. She never dressed nicely.

"They were-- like, the nice retired old couple that lived in the apartment next to me."

Steve Kroft: You thought they were poor?

Janus Goodwin: Yes, without a doubt.

The one thing everyone remembers about the Gaskos is that they loved animals and always made a fuss over the ones in the neighborhood. Barbara Gluck remembers that Carol Gasko always fed a stray cat, after its owner had died.

Barbara Gluck: She would pet it, you know, and be sweet to it and she put a plate of food like out here.

Steve Kroft: She liked the cat?

Barbara Gluck: Obviously. She loved the cat. We all liked the cat but she was taking care of the cat.

Steve Kroft: And what about Charlie Gasko?

Barbara Gluck: You know, he always had a hat on and dark glasses. I have to say it was mysterious to me why such a lovely woman like that was hanging out with that guy, that old grumpy man. I could never figure that one out. Until I heard they had 800,000 something dollars in the wall. And then I went, "Oh, OK" you know?

Money wasn't the only thing found in the Gaskos' apartment on June 22, 2011, when the FBI stopped by and ended what it called the most extensive manhunt in the bureau's history.

Scott Garriola: Weapons-- weapons all over the apartment. I mean, weapons by his nightstand, weapons under the windowsill. Shotguns, Mini-Rugers, rifles.

Steve Kroft: Loaded?

Scott Garriola: Loaded, ready to go.

What had started out as a routine day for Special Agent Scott Garriola -- who was in charge of hunting fugitives in LA -- would turn into one of the most interesting days of his career. After getting a call to stake out a building in Santa Monica, he notified his backup team with the LAPD.

Scott Garriola: I had four guys working that day and we got a tip on Whitey Bulger and "I'll see you there in about an hour." And invariably the--texts return, "Who's Whitey Bulger," so.

Steve Kroft: Really?

Scott Garriola: Yeah, a few of 'em. So I had to remind 'em-- gently remind 'em who Whitey Bulger was.

Steve Kroft: That he was No. 1 of the F.B.I.'s Most Wanted List--

Scott Garriola: No.1, yeah. Big ea-- big East Coast figure but-- so on the West Coast not so much.

The cops in LA were focused on gang bangers and cartel members, not some retired Irish mobster, who hadn't been spotted in 16 years, but then few mobsters have ever been as infamous in a city as Whitey Bulger was in Boston, and his reputation was for more than just being grumpy.

Besides extortion and flooding the city with cocaine, Bulger routinely performed or ordered executions, some at close range, some with a hail of bullets, and at least one by strangulation after which it's been said he took a nap. Special Agent Rich Teahan who ran the FBI's Whitey Bulger fugitive task force had heard it all.

Rich Teahan: Bulger was charged with 19 counts of murder. He was charged with other crimes. He was a scorch to the society in South Boston, his own community.

He was also a scourge to the FBI, and a great source of embarrassment to Teahan, Special Agent Phil Torsney and others on the task force. Years earlier, Whitey Bulger had infiltrated the Boston office of the FBI and bought off agents who protected him and plied him with information including the tip that allowed Bulger to flee just days before he was to be indicted.

Phil Torsney: We really had to catch this guy to establish credibility after all the other issues. And it was just a matter of bringing this guy back to Boston to make sure this guy didn't die or get away with this thing.

When Torsney -- now retired -- and Agent Tommy MacDonald joined the Bulger task force in 2009, the joke was Bulger was on the FBI's least wanted list. There hadn't been a credible lead in more than a decade. And their efforts in Bulger's old neighborhood of South Boston were met with mistrust and ridicule.

Phil Torsney: Some people, they told us right out front, "You guys aren't looking for that guy." People just made the assumption we had him stashed somewhere. I mean, people really thought that kinda thing.

Tommy MacDonald: Despite that mindset that "we're not gonna help you" the FBI still got it done.

Steve Kroft: Took 16 years.

Tommy MacDonald: Took 16 years. Yeah, this was not a typical fugitive.

The FBI says Bulger had planned his getaway years in advance, with money set aside and a fake identity for a Thomas Baxter. During his first two years on the lam, Bulger was in touch with friends and family shuttling between New York, Chicago and the resort town of Grand Isle, La., where he rented a house until his identity was compromised. After that it seemed as if Bulger had disappeared from the face of the Earth except for alleged sightings from all over the world.

Steve Kroft: How many of these tips do you think mighta been true?

Phil Torsney: Boy there was thousands and thousands of tips. And I think -- I don't think that any of 'em were true.

One of the obstacles were there were really no good photographs of Bulger or his longtime live-in girlfriend Catherine Greig, a former dental hygienist. The FBI often noted the couple shared a love of animals, especially dogs and cats, and asked veterinarians to be on the lookout. There were reports that Greig once had breast implants and other plastic surgery in Boston, so the task force reached out to physicians. Eventually they got a call from a Dr. Matthias Donelan, who had located her files in storage.

Tommy MacDonald: I was trying to leave the office a little early to catch one of my kids' ballgames. And I said, "Well, listen-- I'm gonna swing by in the morning and pick those up." And they said to me-- "Do you want the photos too?" And I said, "You have photos?" And they said, "Yeah, we have photos." I said, "We'll be there in 15 minutes."

The breast implant lead produced a treasure trove of high resolution Catherine Greig photographs that would help crack the case. The FBI decided to switch strategies, going after the girlfriend in order to catch the gangster.

[PSA: This is an announcement by the FBI...]

The FBI on created this public service announcement.

[PSA: 60-year-old Greig is the girlfriend of 81-year-old Bulger...]

It ran it in 14 markets on daytime talk shows--aimed at women.

[PSA: Call the tip line at 1-800-Call-FBI.]

And it didn't take long. The very next morning the Bulger task force got three messages from someone that used to live in Santa Monica and was 100 percent certain that Charlie and Carol Gasko, apartment 303 at the Princess Eugenia apartments were the people they were looking for. The descriptions and the age difference matched and Deputy U.S. Marshall Neil Sullivan who handled the lead said there was another piece of tantalizing information.

Neil Sullivan: The tipster specifically described that they were caring for this cat and their love for this cat. So that was just one piece of the puzzle on the tip that added up to saying "if this isn't them it's something we better check out immediately because it sure sounds like them."

A search of the FBI's computer database for the Gaskos raised another red flag, not for what it found, but for what it didn't.

Neil Sullivan: Basically like they were ghosts.

Steve Kroft: No driver's license--

Neil Sullivan: Exactly. No driver's license, no California ID, like they didn't exist.

Steve Kroft: That's the apartment.

Scott Garriola: Right, that corner on the third floor.

Steve Kroft: On the right-hand side?

Scott Garriola: Yup

By early afternoon FBI Agent Scott Gariolla had set up a number of surveillance posts, and had already met with apartment manager Josh Bond to talk about his tenants.

Josh Bond: He closed the door, threw down a folder and opened it up and said, "Are these the people that live in Apartment 303?"

Steve Kroft: Did you say anything when you saw the pictures?

Josh Bond: Yeah. I mean, my initial reaction was, "Holy shit."

Steve Kroft: You're livin' next door to a gangster.

Josh Bond: Well I still didn't really know who he was

But it didn't take him long to figure it out. While the FBI was mulling its options, Bond logged on to Bulger's Wikipedia page.

Josh Bond: And I'm kinda scrolling down. It's like, "Oh wow, this guy's serious." It's, like, murders and extortion. And then I get to the bottom and there's this-- this thing. It's like--from one of his old, you know, people saying, "Well, the last time I saw him, he said, you know, when he goes out he's gonna have guns and he's gonna be ready to take people with him." I was like, "Oooh, maybe I shouldn't be involved in this."

Steve Kroft: I mean, we were sitting here laughing about it but he is a pretty serious guy.

Josh Bond: Yeah, yeah.

Steve Kroft: And he killed a lotta people--or had them killed.

Josh Bond: I didn't know that at the time.

Bond told the FBI he wasn't going to knock on the Gasko's door because there was a note posted expressly asking people not to bother them. Carol had told the neighbors that Charlie was showing signs of dementia.

Scott Garriola: We were back there...

So Garriola devised a ruse involving the Gaskos' storage locker in the garage.

Scott Garriola: It had the name Gasko across it and Apartment 303.

He had the manager call and tell them their locker had been broken into and that he needed someone to come down to see if anything was missing, Carol Gasko said her husband would be right down.

Scott Garriola: We just rushed him.

Steve Kroft: You mean, guns out? "FBI--

Scott Garriola: Sure.

Steve Kroft: --don't move."

Scott Garriola: --gave the words, "Hey, FBI, you know, get your hands up." He turned around and hands went up right away. And then at that moment we told him get down on his knees and he gave us-- (laugh) yeah, he gave us a, "I ain't gettin' down on my f'ing knees."

Steve Kroft: Didn't wanna get his pants dirty.

Scott Garriola: Didn't wanna get his pants dirty. You know, wearing white and seeing the oil on the ground I guess he didn't want get down in oil.

Even at 81, this was a man used to being in control.

Scott Garriola: I asked him to identify himself and that didn't go over well. He asked me to f'ing identify myself and then he said, "Well, you know who I am." And I asked him, I said, "Are you Whitey Bulger?" He said, "Yes."

Scott Garriola: Just about that moment, someone catches my attention from a few feet away by the elevator shaft.

It was Janus Goodwin from the third floor, going to do her laundry.

Janus Goodwin: And I said, "Excuse me. I think I can help you. This man has dementia, so if he's acting oddly, you know-- that could be why."

Scott Garriola: Immediately what flashed through my mind is, "Oh, my God, I just arrested an 81-year-old man with Alzheimer's who thinks he's Whitey Bulger. What is he gonna tell me next, he's Elvis?" So I said, "Do me a favor, this woman over here says you have a touch of Alzheimer's" and he said, "Don't listen to her, she's f-ing nuts." He says--"I'm James Bulger."

A few minutes later he affirmed it by signing a consent form allowing the FBI to search his apartment.

Scott Garriola: As he's signing he says, "That's the first time I've signed that name in a long time."

Steve Kroft: There was a sense of resignation?

Scott Garriola: I don't think he had it. I did ask him, I said, "Hey, Whitey," I said, "Aren't you relieved that you don't have to look over your shoulder anymore and, you know, it's-- it's come to an end?" And he said, "Are you f****n' nuts?"

But in some ways Whitey Bulger and Catherine Greig had already been prisoners in apartment 303, which appeared to be a mixture of the murderous and the mundane. Alongside the weapons and all the money, they had stockpiled a lifetime supply of cleansers, creams, and detergents. The FBI took special interest a collection of 64-ounce bottles with white socks stretched over the top.

Scott Garriola: I said, "Hey Whitey, what are these? Are these some kind of Molotov cocktail you're making?" He goes, "No," he said, "I buy tube socks from the 99 Cents Store and they're too tight on my calves and that's the way I stretch 'em out." I said, "Why you shopping at the 99 Cents Store? You have-- half a million dollars under your bed." He goes, "I had to make the money last."

"I did ask him, I said, 'Hey, Whitey,' I said, 'Aren't you relieved that you don't have to look over your shoulder anymore and, you know, it's-- it's come to an end?' And he said, 'Are you f****n' nuts?'"

Its been said that one of the reasons it took so long to catch Whitey Bulger, is that people were looking for a gangster, and Bulger, whether he liked it or not, had ceased to be one.

Phil Torsney: He said it was hard to keep up that mindset of a criminal. And that's part of the reason he came down to that garage. He said if he was on his game, you know, 15, 20, 30 years ago, he probably woulda sensed something there. Was-- it was hard to stay on that edge, that criminal edge, after being on the lam as a regular citizen for 15 years.

The master manipulator gave credit to Catherine Greig for keeping him crime-free, hoping it would mitigate her sentence. She is now serving eight years for harboring a fugitive. On the long plane ride back to Boston, Bulger told his captors he became obsessed with not getting caught, and would do anything to avoid it, even if it meant obeying the law. Whitey Bulger's biggest fear, they said, was being discovered dead in his apartment - and he had a plan to avoid it.

Phil Torsney: If he became ill and knew he was on his deathbed. He'd go down to Arizona, crawl down in the bottom of one of these mines, and die and decompose. And hope that we would never find him and still be lookin'-- lookin' for him forever.

The Murder of an American Nazi

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It was a startling case that made global headlines: an American neo-Nazi leader murdered in his home in Riverside, Calif. His name was Jeff Hall. He was a burly man, 6-foot-3, a devoted father of five young children and a plumber who had been unemployed for three years. Jeff Hall was shot in his living room at point black range. But, as Lesley Stahl first reported in September 2011, what was truly astonishing was who shot him.

[Jeff Hall at home: We've been through a lot together, some of us, you know. Seriously.]

This is 32-year-old Jeff Hall. These pictures were taken just hours before he was executed - right in this room. The executioner - this child: his son. His 10-year-old son. But if you find this image disturbing, consider this one: taken two weeks earlier.

A neo-Nazi rally on the streets of Trenton, N.J.

[Jeff Hall at rally: Who's streets?

Crowd: Our streets!

Jeff Hall: Who's streets?

Crowd: Our streets!

Jeff Hall: Who's streets?

Crowd: Our streets! Zeig Heil!

Jeff Hall delivering speech: We are not afraid of you!]

Jeff Hall was a rising star in the largest neo-Nazi group in the country, the National Socialist Movement, or NSM.

[Crowd at rally: Zeig Heil!]

The numbers nationwide are still small - 500 members tops, but they're growing.

[Jeff Hall: This isn't dress up, this isn't a game. We are fighting for our children's future.]

According to Jeff Hall and the NSM that future would be an all-white, non-Semitic America.

[Jeff Hall: There's other groups I could join. There's tons of them.]

Jeff Hall joined only two years earlier, but seen as personable and charismatic, he quickly became the leader of NSM in California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada.

[Jeff Hall: Zeig Heil! Zeig Heil! Zeig Heil!]

This footage was shot by Julie Platner, a filmmaker and photographer, who was able to gain the NSM's trust.

[Nazi: How ya doin' Miss Julie?]

And enter their closed world of private meetings.

[Jeff Hall: Julie has me mic'ed]

She quickly honed in on Jeff Hall.

[Jeff Hall: Jeff, nice to meet you.]

Jeff Hall cultivated a sense of family among his new recruits. Holding his monthly meetings at his house, with the kids around, including his son Joseph.

These gatherings were a strange mix of Nazi propaganda.

[Jeff Hall: That's how we apply what we learn from "Mein Kampf."]

And party games. A birthday celebration topped off by -

[Recruits: Happy birthday! Zeig Heil!]

Jeff's mother Joann Patterson went to some of her son's meetings, despite abhorring her son's politics.

Joann Patterson: I wanted to make sure it was okay for my grandkids to be there. And I had a great time. It looked like any barbecue in any backyard in America. The food was great.

Lesley Stahl: But they were Nazis. We're just sitting here talking about Nazis.

Joann Patterson: I know, it's crazy.

Lesley Stahl: They're in your own family.

Joann Patterson: I know, it's crazy, huh?

Lesley Stahl: "My son became a Nazi."

Joann Patterson: Yeah. A Nazi leader!

On Saturday, April 30th, 2011, her son held what would be his last get-together. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, to the extent this is ordinary.

[Joseph Hall: I'm going outside...]

10-year-old Joseph was running in and out of the house. All the kids were. Dad even took some of them to see his Nazi glow in the dark t-shirt - with its SS insignia.

[Jeff Hall: Ok, come here - close the door

Kid: Wow!

Jeff Hall: It's the little things in life!]

This is the last recorded image of Jeff Hall alive. After people left that night, the family watched a movie, "Yogi Bear," as Jeff slept on the couch. The others went upstairs to bed. Then, at 4:02 a.m.

[911 Operator: 911 Emergency

Krista Hall: My son shot my husband, I need an ambulance, he's bleeding!

Operator: How old is your son?

Krista Hall: 10

Operator: How old is your son??

Krista Hall: 10! God!]

Lesley Stahl: You were the first detective at the scene after the murder, is that correct?

Greg Rowe: That's correct.

Detective Greg Rowe saw Jeff Hall dead on the couch. He says little Joseph, who was found hiding upstairs under his covers, described calmly how he had gotten the family's Rossi 357 Magnum from his dad's closet.

Greg Rowe: Went downstairs and shot his dad. He described how he used his forefingers to cock the gun. And used two fingers to pull the trigger and he pointed it at his ear.

Lesley Stahl: This was not a case of a kid thinking it was a toy and letting it go off by accident?

Greg Rowe: There's no evidence this was anything but intentional.

Prosecutor Michael Soccio.

Michael Soccio: When he was taken into juvenile hall, he's so little, they didn't have shoes to fit him. So they had to go out and buy him a little pair of tennis shoes. And he asked if he'd be able to keep the shoes when he left. Which showed an absolute lack of understanding of what was going to be happening.

The Department of Justice reports only nine cases of a 10-year-old killing a parent since 1980. But then, how many American kids are raised by a Nazi?

Lesley Stahl: When you heard that the victim was the head of the local Nazi organization, did you just think to yourself that that had something to do with it?

Michael Soccio: When I first heard it I thought: there's got to be some connection with Nazi views, with guns, with weapons, with violence.

Lesley Stahl: Hate speech.

Michael Soccio: Hate speech, sure.

That was just about everyone's assumption. So we set out to discover why Jeff Hall became a Nazi in the first place.

"When I first heard it I thought: there's got to be some connection with Nazi views, with guns, with weapons, with violence."

Joann Patterson: I think the biggest factor that contributed was the economy. When the housing market just fell apart in California, he had no work. He hadn't worked for three years.

Lesley Stahl: He was in construction?

Joann Patterson: He was in construction.

Lesley Stahl: And that side of the economy, down here, just completely dried up?

Joann Patterson: Completely dried up. And he tried and tried and tried to get work. It's just scary. Poverty is a really scary thing.

Jeff lived in the Inland Empire, a vast stretch of California desert, east of L.A. It was among the worst hit when the real estate market crashed, ranking fifth in foreclosures nationwide. Entire communities became ghost towns. Unemployment reached 15 percent. Jeff was poor and angry, with time on his hands, when he came upon Jeff Schoep, commander of the National Socialist Movement.

Jeff Schoep at New Jersey rally: You have illegal aliens coming over the border, streaming over in hoards, taking American jobs.

Neo-Nazis focus their tirades lately on immigrants and the so-called "browning of America" where places like California no longer have a white majority.

Jeff Schoep: We're a white civil rights organization.

Lesley Stahl: What does that mean?

Jeff Schoep: Basically, what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do for black people we do for white people.

Well, not exactly. I read to commander Jeff Schoep this, from the NSM's website:

Lesley Stahl: "All non-whites should leave this nation peacefully or by force."

Jeff Schoep: Our ideal America would be an America that's all white. That doesn't mean--

Lesley Stahl: Yeah. And everybody else has to leave, "peacefully or by force." Wow.

Jeff Schoep: Our goal is a white homeland.

Lesley Stahl: I mean, the president's not white; our attorney general's not white. So they should leave? What about Jews?

Jeff Schoep: They're also a race of people.

Jeff Stahl: So they should leave?

Lesley Schoep: Correct.

He knows that won't happen anytime soon, but he's preparing. Ten white supremacists of various groups were on the ballot in 2010, including three for Congress. One candidate seeking local office was Jeff Hall.

Jeff Schoep at New Jersey rally: Jeff Hall ran for election in California and took in almost 30 percent of the vote as an open National Socialist.

Jeff Hall: It was a good run, it was a great run!

Beside that unsuccessful run for local water board, Jeff organized patrols at the Mexican border, just a short drive from his home. They would show up fully armed, with night-vision equipment, and round up migrants as they crossed into the U.S. Two weeks before his death, Jeff bragged about taking his young son with him on patrol.

[Jeff Hall: My son was able to operate a Gen-1 night vision and the infrared scope. At the age of 9, my son's out at the border.]

So was being exposed to all that hate and talk of violence the reason Joseph murdered his dad?

[Jeff Hall: You got to get your Glucks cocked and get ready to rock and roll at the border.]

The more we looked, the more we realized it wasn't that cut and dry.

Megan Hall: There might have been some things that we didn't know about Jeff, that we didn't-- we wouldn't have liked.

Megan Hall, Jeff's sister, says she hated her brother's politics, but had always seen him as a model father.

Megan Hall: He was an amazing father and would do anything for his kids. And you know, my nephew would just look at him like he was his hero.

But in the last couple of years the hero changed; darkened. Whether it was the power of being a Nazi leader, or the powerlessness of being unemployed, he drank more she says, and was prone to striking out at his son, and his wife Krista.

Megan Hall: My brother had shown a different side to him. Not all of the time. It was on random occasions, not predictable.

Lesley Stahl: He was beating up both Joe and Krista is what we heard. Is that what you've been told?

Megan Hall: Yuh.

Young Joseph told police that he decided to kill his dad to quote "end the son versus father thing."

Lesley Stahl: Did he describe what the abuse entailed?

Greg Rowe: He described his father hitting him, kicking him, pushing him.

Michael Soccio: He found himself in a situation or believed he was in a situation that required some type of desperate act. What's unusual about Joseph Hall is that his solution to it was to kill. Most children don't think about, "What I'll need to do here is kill my father."

As the police began to dig, they discovered that little Joseph was a volatile and violent child, who had been kicked out of several schools for attacking students and staff, once nearly choking a teacher with a phone-cord.

Joann Patterson: My grandson was who he was from the time he was born.

Lesley Stahl: What do you mean?

Joann Patterson: He has absolutely no understanding of cause and effect.

Lesley Stahl: It is so rare that a 10-year-old would kill a father.

Joann Patterson: Uh huh. Well, but you know, I wasn't surprised by it. I just somehow felt it could always happen. But I thought it would be when he's older.

Lesley Stahl: Would this have happened if Jeff had not become a Nazi?

Joann Patterson: I think so. Probably later. Joe was still Joe and they weren't having a lot of luck figuring out exactly what his problems were. Or how to deal successfully with them.

Little Joseph also had a history of starting fires.

Lesley Stahl: Does he raise the question of whether a killer can be preprogrammed?

Michael Soccio: I think he had everything physically in place that it didn't take much to bring him along to thinking that murder's appropriate.

Lesly Stahl: So he was born the match, and that environment and that home lit the match. Is that a fair way to say it?

Michael Soccio: I think it's a very fair way to say it.

After the murder, Jeff's mother got custody of his four girls, because his wife pled guilty to leaving a loaded gun in the house. And every week, Joann visited her son's young killer in juvenile hall.

Joann Patterson: It's a struggle every day of my life. Because my son was murdered and I want justice for him.

Lesley Stahl: Yeah.

Joann Patterson: But only at the ex-- that only happens at the expense of my grandson.

Lesley Stahl: What about politics with these children? Do you feel any obligation to teach them about Nazis?

Joann Patterson: They're being raised conservative Republican. We need more of those in California.

Lesley Stahl: But what about Nazism?

Joann Patterson: It's gone, for this family.

Last year, at age 13, Joseph Hall was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 years in juvenile prison.

Stealing History

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American history is housed in the National Archives. Forty-four of them, spread all over the country. They contain documents, photos, maps, artifacts that go way back to the founding fathers. Every school kid knows about some of them: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights; but there are millions of others, from the patent for Michael Jackson's moonwalking shoes, to Benedict Arnold's loyalty oath.

Many are priceless treasures...which means they attract not only scholars but thieves; more and more of them all the time. Getting to the crooks before they get to the archives has become a new priority in law enforcement.

And, as Bob Simon reported a year and a half ago, no one knows more about this than Barry Landau -- a self-described presidential historian and one of the leading collectors of presidential memorabilia. That's because Barry Landau carried out the largest theft of these treasures in American history. Prosecutors say he is one of the most accomplished conmen they've ever encountered.

For decades, he was a regular guest at the White House. Here he is with President Ford and Queen Elizabeth. He's the guy with the beard.

He showed up with President Reagan and Nancy at the Inaugural Gala in 1985 and met a whole bunch of presidents: Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton. He wrote an impressive picture-laden book, "The President's Table." And was invited to the finest anchor desks in town...

[Matt Lauer: Barry H. Landau is presidential historian...]

[Keith Olbermann clip: The story of the ultimate inauguration collector...]

But when we met up with him in June 2012, he no longer wanted to tell his story. He'd been convicted of the single largest theft of historic artifacts in the United States. He stole thousands of items including hundreds of documents signed by some of the most famous names in history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Scott Key, Marie Antoinette, Voltaire. He'd pilfered them from museums and libraries all over the country.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein was in charge of the prosecution.

Bob Simon: He was a conman?

Rod Rosenstein: Barry Landau was a con artist. And he used his reputation as a presidential historian in order to gain the confidence of museums and other people who had custody of important documents and then he stole them.

It was a reputation, it turns out, that was the product of his rich imagination. Landau claimed he'd worked for every president since Lyndon Johnson, had served as chief of protocol at the White House.

Rod Rosenstein: But in fact, there is no evidence that Barry Landau was ever employed by any White House or had any of the relationships he claimed to have or indeed had any legitimate job at all.

"Barry Landau was a con artist. And he used his reputation as a presidential historian in order to gain the confidence of museums and other people who had custody of important documents and then he stole them."

The Landau case and a few others let law enforcement know they had a problem they hadn't really been aware of until very recently.

Paul Brachfeld: Every institution now that has collections is threatened. We all know that there is a major threat and it's getting larger.

Former Secret Service employee Paul Brachfeld is the inspector general of the National Archives. He runs the tiny and little-known archival recovery team: armed federal agents and historians who, along with the FBI, go after stolen national treasures.

Bob Simon: Now Landau, was he a good thief? Was he a good conman?

Paul Brachfeld: From everybody I talked to, he was a master thief. Because he did it over a duration of time. He shopped. He got what he shopped for.

A trusted researcher and regular at libraries around the country, Landau's strategy, along with his accomplice, they conquered with kindness; as they did here at the Maryland Historical Society where Pat Anderson is the director.

Bob Simon: Some thieves work with knives, others with guns. These guys worked with cupcakes?

Pat Anderson: Yes, they did. Yes, they did. They brought us cupcakes and the second time they visited, they brought cookies. Evidently they took treats to every repository they visited.

Bob Simon: And it worked.

Pat Anderson: It did work.

But on July 9th, 2011, the esteemed Mr. Landau got careless and Pat Anderson's archivists got suspicious, caught them stealing, and called the police.

Bob Simon: How many things did they have when they were caught?

Pat Anderson: They had 60 pieces of our library material.

Bob Simon: OK, so now this is some of the stuff they stole? Tell me what we're looking at.

Pat Anderson: These are inauguration souvenirs.

Bob Simon: From which inauguration?

Pat Anderson: This is Grover Cleveland's and, these are fun, tickets to Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. And they grabbed a fistful of those.

Bob Simon: I bet.

There wasn't much security at the Maryland Historical Society. But still, how do you walk out in front of the librarians' desk with 60 documents? The secret was sartorial. Deep pockets.

Bob Simon: And those are his costumes?

Rod Rosenstein: These are the jackets that Mr. Landau used and he had altered in order to steal items from the historical societies. Now, what's interesting about these coats is that he arranged for a tailor to install interior pockets, hidden pockets inside the jackets that are large enough to fit these documents.

Landau had a whole collection of them, including a trench coat.

Bob Simon: How did you react when you saw his jackets?

Paul Brachfeld: Fascinated. Again, in my world, every criminal is different. Every thief is different. And you just always - you kind of respect them. You kind of learn from them.

After the bust in Maryland, Inspector General Brachfeld and the FBI decided it would be a good idea to get a search warrant for Landau's apartment in New York.

Bob Simon: It was your agents who broke into Landau's apartment. How did they react when they found what they found?

Paul Brachfeld: Well, my focus was getting them a truck because when we got to Mr. Landau's apartment, we came to the quick realization that we needed a truck. This was, by far, in terms of quantity, the largest amount of documents and artifacts that we've ever recovered from one site.

Ten thousand items; including 300 of extraordinary historical value. What were they worth on the market?

Paul Brachfeld: I think the value was astronomical. And for me, it's so difficult to put an empirical number on them. It's basically how much the market would bear. For all I know, to some collector, one document might have been worth millions.

Bob Simon: All of these were found in Landau's apartment?

Rod Rosenstein: All of these documents were seized from Mr. Landau's apartment in NYC.

There were remarkable documents: letters signed by Mark Twain, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, a document penned by Lorenzo de Medici 533 years ago, an epitaph written by Benjamin Franklin for himself.

Bob Simon: And he wrote, "Lies here food for the worms yet the work shall not be lost." Pretty good stuff.

A letter written by John Hancock with a real John Hancock signature, and for 20th century buffs, there was the original reading copy of FDR's 1937 inaugural address.

This one....

[Video of FDR delivering inaugural address: One third of a nation, ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished...]

Rod Rosenstein: It was a rainy day. In fact, the reading copy of the speech, the document the president read from that day was waterlogged. And you can see that on the document that we seized from Mr. Landau.

And landau didn't just steal from historical libraries. He had taken his campaign of kindness all the way to the White House, befriending President Clinton's former secretary, Betty Currie, who made the mistake of inviting Landau to her house.

Bob Simon: Landau was pretty good at making friends with people who could help him, wasn't he? He spent nights at her place.

Paul Brachfeld: Bad, bad offer to invite him into your house.

Bob Simon: He arrived at her house with one suitcase and left with two?

Paul Brachfeld: The assistant U.S. attorney actually upped that - I think he said it was three in court. So Betty Currie should've gotten up early that morning and basically escorted him out the door. I guess there's a lesson to be learned. If you have a houseguest, say goodbye to them in your driveway.

He robbed her of more than 250 items including copies of presidential speeches from her personal collection. Naturally, we wanted to ask Barry Landau about all of this so two summers ago we tried to talk to him in New York City.

Bob Simon: Bob Simon, 60 Minutes....Talk to us a minute.

Barry Landau: No, no, no, no, no.

Bob Simon: Just answer some questions. It's...you're being accused of a lot of things and we want to hear your side of it. They say, the prosecution says you're a conman, a thief, what do you say to that? Don't you have anything to say at this point in your own defense?

Landau may have been the maestro of his craft. But there have been others thieves. Two summers ago, prosecutors put Leslie Waffen behind bars. He was in charge of the Archives' Audio and Film Records department. He stole thousands of original recordings and sold them on eBay. Gems like this eyewitness account of the Hindenburg disaster:

[Witness: It's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen...the smoke and the flames...oh the humanity!"]

Another employee stole most of the presidential pardons from the Philadelphia archives, as well as hundreds of photos taken by astronauts in space and on the moon.

Bob Simon: Do you look on eBay for suspicious documents?

Paul Brachfeld: That would be one of the sites we would look at. Many times, when a thief is trying to move a document on the Internet, the buyer may be a federal agent. And that's real sweet.

Bob Simon: You're talking sting operations?

Paul Brachfeld: Yes.

Bob Simon: Have you been successful with sting operations?

Paul Brachfeld: Yes. We ask our sentinels, historians and collectors and dealers, to help us. We go where a lot of federal employees usually aren't welcome. We'll go to gun shows, we'll go to dealer shows.

Like the Civil War collector's fair in Gettysburg, Penn. Here hundreds of dealers and thousands of visitors show up every year to meander. And to buy. Many documents -- including a few signed by Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee are for sale. Have any of them been stolen from archives or museums? That's what Archival Recovery Team agents Kelly Maltagliati and Mitch Yockelson are looking for.

Bob Simon: What would you be happiest to find?

Mitch Yockelson: We're missing the Wright Brothers patent. That would thrill me to no end to recover the patent for the Flying Machine of 1903.

Bob Simon: When did it disappear?

Mitch Yockelson: We don't even know. We discovered it was missing around 2003 when a staff member had wanted to pull it for an exhibit commemorating the centennial.

Also missing, the bombing maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So where do these things end up?

Rod Rosenstein: In foreign countries, for example in Eastern Europe, there is a market - a black market - for American historical documents

Bob Simon: How do these black markets function and where are they?

Rod Rosenstein: I think it's like any illegal market anywhere in the world. If you know of somebody who has a lot of money and wants to collect significant, unique items and you make that connection, then you may well be able to make the sale.

But Barry Landau has been put out of business. Two summers ago, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. And that's not all.

Rod Rosenstein: Even after Mr. Landau is released from prison , he will be prohibited from visiting museums, libraries, or any other places where documents are deposited.

One after effect of the Landau case is that security is being tightened in many of these places. Pat Anderson is imposing new rules in the Maryland Historical Society.

Pat Anderson: Our patrons are no longer allowed to wear jackets in the reading room. And it's unfortunate, some of our older patrons, they get chilly and we have to say "I'm sorry" and so they can wear a shawl but they can't wear jackets, so...(laughs)

Bob Simon: You're going to have to hand out blankets.

Pat Anderson: Well exactly and hope they don't have pockets in them.

Bob Simon: Yeah (laugh)

And Ms. Anderson will not just be hoping. She'll be there on the front lines guarding our past.

Bob Simon: You are the custodians of more than these documents - you're sort of the custodians of American history.

Pat Anderson: Yes we are. We're the stewards. We make sure it gets from one generation to the next. You know, this is what survives of the American past. We never have all of it which is what makes what survives so much more important. These things don't belong to us. They belong to the American people.

I'm Steve Kroft. Thanks for joining us. We'll be back next week with a brand new edition of 60 Minutes.

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