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 (Toll Free)

Two dealers get prison time, probation for sale of fake game-used jerseys

Justice

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

Two men who were charged with selling fake game-used jerseys to the public as well as card companies to be used in memorabilia cards were sentenced in a U.S. District Court on Wednesday with probation and jail time among the end result while three others are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Samborn of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, dealer Steve Jensen was sentenced to three years probation with four months of home detention and electronic monitoring. Meanwhile former Florida-based memorabilia dealer Bradley Wells was sentenced to six months in prison starting on Jan. 6 with three years of supervised release after that.

“In both cases,” Samborn said, “restitution is still to be determined.”

The other three charged in this long-running case — Jarrod Oldridge, Brad Horne and Bernie Gernay — await court dates later this month.

Oldridge is the owner of JO Sports Co., a company with deals in place with 14 NFL teams to sell game-used memorabilia. Gernay is the owner of Pro Sports Investments, while Horne is the owner of Authentic Sports Memorabilia Inc.

According to the U.S Department of Justice, Wells admitted to obtaining “hundreds of jerseys that were not game-used and then had them altered in order to sell them for a higher price” while working for Authentic Sports Inc. and Historic Auctions LLC, both Florida-based companies, between 2005 and 2009.

The cases have been in the courts system since 2011 with Wells alleging in past court documents, that based on unusually low prices they were willing to pay, the card companies he worked with — Topps, Upper Deck and Donruss — had to have known that his game-used items (for multiple sports, not just baseball) were not real. (See our past story here.)

Typically, trading card licensors allow game-used equipment to be purchased only from authorized dealers and it is unclear at this time how much card companies may have purchased from the dealers.

In a Beckett Media story published last year, Evan Kaplan, the MLB Players Association Director of Licensing and Business Development, stated its policy on game-used acquisitions.

“Ensuring the authenticity of game-used memorabilia has always been paramount,” Kaplan said. “All game-used memorabilia is required to have been used in actual MLB game. We work closely with MLB, the players and our licensees to help procure authentic materials.”

According to Rich Mueller of Sports Collectors Daily, who has reviewed the latest filings, Panini America, (which bought Donruss and its assets) claimed $7.7 million in lost revenue because of the Oldridge case and a $3.37 million loss in the Wells case. Claims from Topps and Upper Deck, if any, have not been made public via court documents.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

 

10 Comments

Corey

So will the card companies themselves, will they be liable?

Posted October 16, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink
zotster

Nice that the card companies can collect on lost revenue … now can us collectors collect money for buying game-used memorabilia cards from the card companies that were not really game-used? This affects collectors more than anyone – we need to know exactly what cards are bogus and what aren’t. Otherwise, how can any of us really know if any memorabilia card from the past 10 years or so, if not ever, is legitimate?

Posted October 16, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink
sportsfan1

What a bad week for the card/memorabilia industry… I really hope they can survive all of this!

Posted October 16, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink
Card Opionator

Its amazing how card companies will be compensated for their losses, when in truth, they were party to selling fake merchandise. The investigation should move further into what they knew and when.

Posted October 17, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink
Olds

Zot: I believe those figures were for the value of gamers that were *not* used.

Posted October 17, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

How amazing would it be for one of the card companies to step up and offer a game-used swap program. Identify which cards have counterfeit swatches and allow collectors to send them in for replacement. What a great PR move would that be?

Posted October 17, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink
chuck

Donruss was purchased by Panini America in 2009 and Panini is claiming $7.7 million in revenue lost in the Oldridge case. Oldridge’s attorney says that figure represents what the jerseys would have been worth had they actually been game used and isn’t relevant. ( this is what was said) I think this takes into account for the cost and the coast that would have been made from cutting them up and inserting them in boxes. but the question still stands do we have the real deal, from past cards, how much crap is out there, will they or can they tell how much.

Posted October 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

Why is Panini filing over $10 million in claims against Jensen and Wells? This isn’t taking in to account what they will be claiming against the other three defendants too.

According to FBI records it is stated that when Panini bought the Donruss name only $125,908 worth of relics were inherited by Panini and most had already been cut up and ready for insertion in to cards to be distributed. I am going to take a leap here but I am betting that Panini (unknowingly) inserted those relics in to cards already and therefore made their money back.

Panini is claiming they are due the $10 million+ because it represents what the jerseys would have been worth had they been real. I am not sure how you figure $10 million penalty on $125k worth of cut up relics? Shouldn’t it be the Panini collectors, who purchased products with the fake relics, who are made complete?

Normally I am a Panini fan but this is one I call “BS” on. Panini should not be trying to profit off of this black eye to the hobby. It makes them look greedy especially considering this happened before they were even producing cards in the U.S. I have no problem with them receiving their lost $125k maybe another 30% penalty but that is it.

Just my 2 cents

Posted October 17, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink
James

Just my opinion but I would think its almost impsosible to tell which cards have fake mem in them. Just think of that era of cards like the steroidcera in baseball. Was a lot of fun at the time but in the end we were all dupted.

Posted October 19, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink
jerome kelly hylton

what happens to the consumer ive bought alot of hobby boxes from these companys and want to know which players the jerseys are and have 100’s of jersey cards from 2006 mostly from donruss/playoff i still have every hobby box and wrapper ive purchased as well. will the consumer be reimbursed for this..

Posted December 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

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