Ex-Stanford Prof Admits Thefts

From United Press International

A former Stanford University professor, already on probation for stealing $250,000 worth of documents and material from inventor Thomas A. Edison’s laboratory, pleaded guilty today to a second charge of possession of stolen items from the lab.

Phillip Petersen, 68, of Redwood City, Calif., admitted to one count of possessing, storing, selling and disposing of stolen goods between March, 1976, and last October.

Petersen faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines when he is sentenced May 15.

Petersen, then an adjunct professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Stanford and director of the university’s language lab, visited the Thomas A. Edison National Historic Site about 30 times between 1974 and 1976, claiming to be engaged in research on Edison’s invention of the phonograph, officials said.


After the visits, a large number of photographs, documents, sketches and instruction manuals were determined to be missing, officials said.

The thefts remained unsolved until 1985, when a North Carolina documents dealer informed FBI agents that Petersen had offered him Edison-related material.