Man Faked Identity to Sell $40,000 Book Missing From Old South Church

A Cambridge man pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he faked his identity to cash a check related to the sale of a valuable historical diary missing from Boston’s Old South Church.

An unknown person sold the book to a Harvard Square bookstore for $750 on Aug. 11, 2008, using another man’s driver’s license for identification. Michael Ford, 66, cashed that check using the same fake identification at a nearby bank about forty minutes later.

Experts at the bookstore later realized the book’s historical significance and sold it to a collector for $40,000. Upon learning it was stolen, the store repurchased the item and returned it to the church.


The book — written by settler James Hull in the 1600s — went missing from the church that summer, though it’s not clear how. Ford’s plea did not accept responsibility for the artifact’s disappearance.

Ford will be sentenced in federal court on Feb. 27.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the person who sold the book to the bookstore.

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