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'Thieves of Baghdad' author to speak at commencement

Released: 05/04/2006

“Thieves of Baghdad” author Matthew Bogdanos, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves colonel who led the international investigation into the April 2003 looting of Baghdad’s Iraq Museum, will be the keynote speaker at LSU Alexandria’s Spring 2006 commencement.

The ceremony is at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Riverfront Convention Center in Alexandria.

Bogdanos will be available to sign copies of his book after the ceremony. “Thieves of Baghdad” is the critically acclaimed story of the looting and recovery of the treasures and historical items housed in the Iraqi National Museum. Copies are now being sold in the Follett bookstore at LSUA for $28.13 with tax. Follett officials ordered 275 copies in anticipation of Bogdanos’ visit.

Copies also will be available for sale at the book signing. However, credit cards will not be accepted at the book signing.

LSU Alexandria’s Student Government Association is credited with bringing Bogdanos to commencement. “His message to LSUA will be one of inspiration and hope for graduates facing a post-Hurricane Katrina and Rita Louisiana,” said James McDonald, SGA vice president.

Bogdanos has been an assistant district attorney in Manhattan since 1988. A colonel in the Marine Reserves, middleweight boxer and native New Yorker, he was raised waiting tables in his family’s Greek restaurant in lower Manhattan. He holds a degree in classics, Phi Beta Kappa Award, from Bucknell University; a law degree and a master’s degree in Classical Studies from Columbia University; and a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College.

Commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1980, he served as a judge advocate until his release from active duty in 1988, when he joined the New York County District Attorney’s Office. Rising to Senior Homicide Trial Counsel in 1996, he lists among 200 felony trials the prosecution of 15-year-old “Baby-Faced Butchers” Daphne Abdela and Christopher Vazquez for their 1997 grisly Central Park murder and rappers Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and Jamal “Shyne” Barrows for their 1999 shootout. Remaining in the Marine Reserves between 1988-2001, he served in Desert Storm, and for military operations in South Korea, Lithuania, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kosovo.

Recalled to active duty after being forced to evacuate his apartment near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, he joined a multi-agency, special-forces task force in Afghanistan, received a Bronze Star for his actions in obtaining intelligence on 11 of the “Top 25” Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in the War on Terrorism, and was promoted to colonel. He then served two tours in Iraq as the head of that task force, leading the international investigation into the April 2003 looting of Baghdad’s Iraq Museum, resulting in the recovery of almost 6000 antiquities in eight countries in the last three years. Released back into the Marine Reserves in October 2005, he returned to the District Attorney’s Office and continues the hunt for stolen antiquities. He is the recipient of a 2005 National Humanities Medal from President Bush for his work recovering Iraq’s treasures. All royalties from “Thieves of Baghdad” are being donated to the Iraq Museum.