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Records stored at the National Archives

One whole section of the National Personnel Records Center in Spanish Lake contains the records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General, General Courts Martial from 1812-1938. This photo was taken on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012. Photo by J.B. Forbes, jforbes@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS COUNTY • A man hired to make electronic copies of World War II-era draft records at the National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center here admitted in federal court Tuesday that he had mutilated and destroyed some of them.

Peter Panouzis, 31, was a contract worker for Ancestry.com at the time. He was supposed to be digitizing World War II-era Selective Service records, including draft registration cards and their attachments, officials said.

Instead, on March 9 and March 11, he tore up some of the attachments and hid the pieces in his work gloves, they said. Panouzis then hid the gloves in bins and trash cans, prosecutors said.

Panouzis, of East Alton, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis of destruction of public records. At sentencing Dec. 10 he is likely to face probation, said his attorney, Matthew Radefeld.

The crime was discovered after Panouzis called an archives technician to ask that a glove be thrown away and a trash can and bin on his desk be emptied, officials said. The technician spotted the torn records and contacted a supervisor.

In March when officials announced the then-unnamed worker’s firing, they said he had been warned by his supervisor about productivity and was trying to deal with a stack of draft card attachments.

Radefeld said Panouzis suffered from anxiety and was feeling pressured by supervisors’ demands. The lawyer said that officials were able to tape the attachments back together and that they mainly consisted of records documenting address changes.

The center, near Interstate 270 and Highway 367 in north St. Louis County, has about 100 million military records and federal personnel files dating to the early 1800s.

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