Fraud Friday — 12 Years in Jail for Sports Memorabilia Fraudster

December 29, 2017

By Bob Coleman
Editor, Fraud Friday

Fraud Friday — 12 Years in Jail for Sports Memorabilia Fraudster

Years of charismatic lying to get people, and banks, to part with their money and give it to him finally caught up with 44-year old John Rogers in a Chicago courtroom last week.

The judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison, calling the scope of his decade long fraud scheme “breathtaking.”

“You literally told thousands of lies to honest people to have them part with their money.”

Reports the Chicago Tribune:

Long known as a consummate sweet-talker, Arkansas collector John Rogers tried one last time Wednesday to use his gift for gab.

Facing sentencing in Chicago for a $23 million sports memorabilia fraud scheme, Rogers issued a rambling, 45-minute statement in a federal courtroom asking for leniency and talking about his downward spiral into drug addiction. He apologized tearfully to his teenage son, spoke eloquently about his failed marriage and promised to help return money to his victims.

“I have no excuse for it — zero excuse,” Rogers told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin. “I don’t deserve a break, but I’m asking you for one.”

Rogers, 44, pleaded guilty in March to one count of wire fraud, admitting he bilked dozens of victims through various schemes involving sports memorabilia and photo collections.

He had been free on bond pending sentencing, but Durkin ordered him jailed last month after prosecutors said he continued to sell phony sports memorabilia even after pleading guilty, including a bogus Mickey Mantle 1956 Triple Crown batting trophy and a doctored commemorative football from Super Bowl I.

The new allegations also scuttled Rogers’ cooperation deal with prosecutors that could have cut his potential sentence in half. Rogers had spent more than a year wearing a wire for federal authorities in Arkansas in various drug and fraud investigations, leading to the resignation of one government official in Little Rock but no indictments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Owens said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Owens told the judge that Rogers has used his live-in girlfriend and others as a front for a scheme that involved the forging of everything from a Mickey Mantle 1956 Triple Crown batting trophy to a phony commemorative football from Super Bowl I.

The girlfriend began cooperating with authorities after Rogers assaulted her several weeks ago.

Rogers is also facing pending burglary charges in Arkansas alleging he broke into a facility where some of the items seized in the case were being stored and stole five computer hard drives later found in his car, Owens said.

Fake Collateral Secured Loans

Best known for using a fake Heisman trophy as collateral for a $100,000 loan, Rogers falsely represented that he had secured contracts to purchase collections of sports memorabilia and newspaper photograph archives his company would sell at a profit.

John showed the investors contracts for collections and archives even though he knew the deals never actually existed because the contracts were forgeries that Rogers created to deceive them. Rogers admits selling sports memorabilia that he knew was not authentic because he had either created the item himself or altered it to make it appear legitimate. Rogers provided customers with fraudulent certificates of authenticity, as well as fraudulent hologram stickers from a major auction house.

First Arkansas Bank & Trust of Jacksonville and Bank of Little Rock suffered losses of almost $5 million.

Read our prior reporting

9/16/16 Fake Heisman Trophy Secured $100,000 Loan