Three men have been charged with plotting to sell the handwritten lyrics from the Eagles album Hotel California, knowing they had been stolen.
The lyrics and notes from the band’s hit 1976 LP had belonged to musician Don Henley and are valued at more than $1m (£840,000).
Prosecutors said the men had lied to auction houses, potential buyers and police about the material’s origins.
Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski deny the charges.
Mr Inciardi is an “employee with curator responsibilities” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, the museum told the AFP news agency.
The New York District Attorney’s office said the trio had engaged in a “years-long campaign to prevent Henley from recovering the manuscripts”.
The lyrics to tracks likes Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane and New Kid In Town were originally stolen in the late 1970s by someone hired to write a biography of the group, according to the district attorney.
‘Made up stories’
In 2005, the biographer is said to have sold them to rare books dealer Mr Horowitz, 66, from Manhattan, who then allegedly sold them to Mr Inciardi, 58, from Brooklyn, and Mr Kosinski, 59, from New Jersey.
On hearing that the latter pair were trying to sell portions of the 100 pages of manuscripts, Henley filed police reports, demanding the return of his property, which the men refused, prosecutors said.
District Attorney Bragg said the defendants “attempted to keep and sell these unique and valuable manuscripts, despite knowing they had no right to do so”.
“They made up stories about the origin of the documents and their right to possess them so they could turn a profit,” he added.
All three defendants have pleaded not guilty in New York to conspiracy and criminal possession charges, and Mr Horowitz to hindering prosecution.
In a joint statement to the Reuters news agency, their lawyers said the district attorney’s office “alleges criminality where none exists and unfairly tarnishes the reputations of well-respected professionals”.
It added: “We will fight these unjustified charges vigorously. These men are innocent.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame said Mr Inciardi had been suspended and it was conducting an internal investigation.
Hotel California, the fifth studio album by the Eagles, topped the US Billboard chart for eight weeks and its title track won record of the year at the Grammy Awards.
It is the third best-selling album of all time in the US, with 26 million copies sold, while the band’s Greatest Hits is the biggest seller, on 38 million sales.
Henley’s late bandmate Glenn Frey, down the years, spoke of how the Hotel California album destroyed the Eagles.
“We, Don in particular, said a mouthful on Hotel California, and a big part of the problem was, what do we talk about now?