Rare books stolen from Fremont's Hayes library

Two rare books stolen from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center library remained missing Friday, including a book of Ohio laws that is believed to be the first book printed in the state.

Three people have been arrested, but authorities haven't been able to track down the books, valued at $130,000.

Federal agents arrested the three in the Columbus area Wednesday.

Joshua McCarty, 31, and his girlfriend, Angela Bays, 19, both of Columbus, and Zachary Scranton, 21, of Marysville, were charged with theft of major artwork.

They were released on bond after initial appearances in federal court. Messages seeking comment were left Friday with McCarty and Scranton. There was no listing for Bays.

The Hayes Presidential Center includes the library and the president's former home, which is about 35 miles southeast of Toledo. The estate has been open to the public since 1916.

Hayes, a Republican, served from 1876 to 1880. The former three-term governor of Ohio beat Samuel Tilden by one electoral vote in 1876 without winning the popular vote.

According to an FBI affidavit, McCarty and Bays visited the presidential center's library on June 27 and asked to look at a book called, "The Maxwell Code."

A library employee later confronted McCarty after seeing him leave a women's restroom with the book, which was printed in 1795 and contains the first printing of Ohio laws, the affidavit said.

Fewer than 10 copies are known to exist.

The employee returned the book and another book, but he did not realize the pages had been torn out of, "The Freeman Code," which was printed in 1798 and contained laws of the Northwest Territory, the affidavit said.

A few months later, Scranton visited the library and asked to view "The Maxwell Code."

Scranton left the library, saying he had to make a phone call and didn't come back, the affidavit said. Employees realized he stole the book and called police, the affidavit said.

Scranton's court-appointed attorney, Alan Pfeuffer, said Friday his client didn't intend to keep the book and that it was going to be given to someone else. He declined to elaborate.

Library officials alerted book dealers and auction houses about the missing book.

Several book dealers said they were contacted by McCarty and said that he recently sold a copy of "The Freeman Code" through a Philadelphia dealer who was unaware it was stolen, according to the affidavit. The dealer told authorities he sold the book for $35,000 to someone in England.

Police and FBI agents traced cell phone calls made to the dealer from McCarty, the affidavit said.