Barry H. Landau

Barry H. Landau, 64, the Manhattan resident and rare documents collector whose secret life of crime came to a halt when he and his accomplice, Jason Savedoff, were caught swiping documents at the Maryland Historical Society last July, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to theft and conspiracy.

Landau claimed to have had close personal ties to as many a six presidents, and he used that spiel to ingratiate himself among politicians and celebrities. It seems Landau’s web of lies was so all-encompassing that even in exposing him as a thief and a deceiver the press fell for his con, reporting that he had served on inaugural committees and was occasionally invited to the Clinton White House to play with their dog.

He had been telling the stories so consistently for so long — and faked out so many politicians and celebrities — that drawing out the truth was a complicated matter, until one realized that none of it was true.