A judge in Australia sentenced a big time Michael Jordan basketball card collector to at least 17 months in jail after a guilty plea on theft charges. But it wasn't MJ cards he was stealing. Marcus Loricchiella, 31, was a rare coin expert who stole $537,000 in coins and bank notes from a shop where he worked and used the lion's share of the money to feed his hoops obsession.
The thefts took place while he was employed at a well-known dealer, Downies Coins. He then sold the coins and currency on eBay, using the proceeds to buy Jordan cards, travel to New Zealand and Fiji and buy home furnishings. The thefts took place over the course of three years.
While he was collecting Jordan cards, Loricchella transacted business and discussed his activities with collectors online. One fellow hobbyist wrote in OzCardTrader.com's message board that Loricchiella focused on PSA 10 and BGS 9.5 and 10 cards.
A psychologist told the court that Loricchiella's buying spree was to make up for some mental health issues.
''Those actions assisted this man to manage his previously undiagnosed and untreated depression and anxiety symptoms. He was effectively self-medicating through those activities," said Jeffrey Cummins.
A judge agreed, in part, by acknowledging Loricchiella's efforts to seek help and his lack of prior trouble. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison, but could serve as few as 17.