FBI agents have searched the Arkansas home and business of John Rogers, the owner of Rogers Photo Archive, a business that has carved a large hobby niche selling vintage sports, historic and entertainment photos.
A large number of agents were on scene at the two locations Tuesday, according to reports by Little Rock TV stations and newspapers but a spokesman would only say they were conducting “official business or operation”.
Rogers has purchased the physical photo archives of numerous large newspapers over the last several years, hiring staff members overseas to scan the photographs, then selling the originals while returning digital copies to the newsrooms so they can be put to better use. His efforts have attracted the attention of numerous national media outlets including CBS News.
Rogers is also a collector of sports memorabilia and former hobby shop owner who in 2008, paid $1.62 million for a T206 Honus Wagner card.
The Arkansas Times reported that the driveway of Rogers’ lakefront home was “crowded with vehicles, and people could be seen coming and going from a large white cargo van”.
At the business, KATV reported about 10 agents moved “methodically” between three buildings, carrying numerous boxes into a waiting trailer hooked to an SUV. Groups of baseball bats and boxes containing bats were also removed.
The station also reported that employees who reported to work in the morning were told to go home.
Affidavits to conduct search warrants are filed under seal and Rogers’ attorney told local reporters they didn’t know what piqued the FBI’s interest.
No charges have been issued against Rogers at this time.
Rogers’ attorney, Blake Hendrix, told the Times that their plan for now was to “let the FBI do their job, and then to see what develops over the next few days”.
Hendrix told Arkansas Online that agents are “gathering information based on suspicion” but his client wasn’t immediately made aware of exactly what the investigation entailed and FBI officials would not say. One media outlet reported that an inventory list of what was removed would be released.
About a year ago, two of Rogers’ former employees pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for diverting funds from customers to their own Paypal accounts. Christopher Jackson and Steve Roby also stole thousands of photographs from Rogers and sold many on eBay, according to government prosecutors.
Jackson received a 33-month prison sentence and two years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay more than $138,000 in restitution. Roby was sentenced last July to a year and a half in prison, a year of supervised release and $138,000 in restitution.