A 35-year-old sports memorabilia shop owner from eastern Pennsylvania has been charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods following a raid on his shop back in June.
Sal Argo was about to hold a paid autograph session with Philadelphia Eagles players in early June when it was abruptly shut down by the team. Security personnel accompanying the players learned of a raid by NFL licensing agents and decided not to allow the players to participate.
Agents confiscated 457 jerseys and 818 unlicensed photos from The Sports Scene, located in a mall near Hazleton, PA. 511 unlicensed photos and more jerseys were confiscated from Argo's van.
Charges were filed two days later and Argo was arraigned June 14. He's been free on his own recognizance.
Dozens of fans were turned away from the signing session and Argo told local media he refunded thousands of dollars to those who had paid in advance.
Argo has maintained that the counterfeit jerseys and photos were sent to him by dealers and collectors across the country who wanted autographs. He also maintains other locations in the area are selling counterfeit sports memorabilia but haven't been charged.
“It smears my name and everything I stand for," he said. "Just because I had players there that’s why I was targeted.”
Argo is a regular at major sports memorabilia shows and has numerous photos of signing sessions and photo ops with past and present sports stars posted on The Sports Scene's MySpace page.
This is Argo's second run-in with the law over the sale of unlicensed products. In 2001, he was charged with similar offenses, pleaded guilty and received two years probation.
A story in the Times-Leader has more details and says his attorneys are working on a plea deal.