The June guilty plea of sports marketing agent Mike Ornstein to federal mail fraud and conspiracy charges involves the resale of Super Bowl tickets at a hefty profit, but sports collectors are more concerned with another part of his activities.
Ornstein, a former Oakland Raiders employee who had a close association with Reggie Bush and was lauded in a book written by Saints coach Sean Payton last winter, pleaded guilty to federal charges four months ago.
In court papers obtained by Sports Collectors Daily, Ornstein admitted to profiting from the sale Super Bowl tickets obtained from people who, “through the course of their employment,” had been able to buy them at face value during a period of years from 1998 to 2006. It's likely some of those sources of tickets were employed by NFL teams, a proposition that could mean trouble for them.
However, those court papers also include an admission by Ornstein that from 2000 to 2003, he was able to purchase dozens of authentically-made NFL player jerseys from a Berlin, Wisconsin manufacturer and falsely represent them to the collectors market as game worn.
Ornstein and some unnamed individuals who federal officials say were also involved, faxed false certificates of authenticity to buyers. The COAs originated in northern Ohio.
An unnamed trading card company wound up with some of the jerseys between 2000 and 2002 and cut them up for use on its cards. The court papers do not indicate whether the cards were distributed and if so, which brands or specific cards were affected.
Ornstein was accused of pocketing over $100,000 as part of the "game worn" trading card scheme which included jerseys Ornstein claimed had been used by members of the Cleveland Browns and other NFL players.
Between December of 2002 and February of 2003, Ornstein also sold or consigned 45 jerseys represented as having been worn in the 2002 season to an unnamed sports memorabilia auction company. Again, Ornstein and his associates provided false COAs. The government's case indicates 20 of the jerseys sold for a price of over $30,000. The fate of those jerseys isn't revealed in the court documents.
The federal judge ordered Ornstein to pay the government $350,000 in restitution for the ticket and memorabilia scheme. He's paid over $100,000 thus far.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in January. The case remains under investigation.