FBI called in over missing Pulitzers

Who stole Newsday’s gold Pulitzer Prize medals? That’s the mystery police, the FBI and the newspaper’s own investigators are working on.

Pulitzer Prizes are the most cherished journalism awards. Some years ago, back in l954, 1970 and 1974, the Long Island newspaper was awarded the prize for public service journalism.

Until this week everyone thought the medals were safely stored in the paper’s archives. That is until someone read that the medals were up for auction. They were being sold on e-bay, the electronic sales website

There was a rush to the paper’s storeroom. It was opened. But the key to the box in which the medals were stored could not be found. A locksmith with a drill was called in. When the box was opened it was empty. So began the mystery of missing medals.

The head of Suffolk County Police Department, where Newsday is located, says his men are working hard on the case. So far there on no real clues as to who took the medals. The head of the coin and medal company in Dallas, who consigned the medals to E-bay, says he bought the medals at an estate sale on Long Island in 2001. He declined to reveal the seller. “We never thought there was any suspicious about the sale”, he told the authorities.

The medals – just a small part of the auction – sold for a total of $15,500. The l970 award for exposing secret land deals on Long Island went for $4,500. The l974 medal for a series about the heroin trade in Turkey and the US also went for $4,000 and the l954 award to Newsday for exposing racetrack scandals went for $7.000. They were just part of 12,000 lots which fetched $27 million .

Who bought the medals? The police know the names – all well known and reputable coin dealers and collectors. There is, it’s said, confidence that Newsday will ultimately get back their purloined medals – but it may take some negotiating.

Meanwhile other newspapers are taking a new look at the medals they may have won over the years. The New York Times, which over the years has been awarded five Pulitzers for public service (the only ones that are real gold), has until now kept them all on display in a room at its headquarters in Manhattan.

A spokeswoman for the paper Diane McNulty inisted that access is very limited. But everyone believes a closer eye will be kept on the New York Times’ awards from now on.

At Newsday the editor John Mancini admitted they are looking into ways of ensuring the medals’ safety – once they get them back

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