A California man is accused of selling more than $1 million in memorabilia that included forged signatures of sports figures, movie stars and other celebrities, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
Anthony J. Tremayne, 51, a former resident of West Covina who now lives in Tijuana, Mexico, was arrested and charged in a 19-count federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed Thursday, according to a news release from the U.S. State Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.
The charges include 13 counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
Tremayne is charged with 13 counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each fraud count and two years in federal prison for each aggravated identity theft count.
According to the indictment, Tremayne moved to Mexico to avoid paying approximately $1.4 million in taxes he owed to the U.S. government.
Tremayne was arrested in San Diego at the San Ysidro border crossing and appeared in U.S. District Court in San Diego on Thursday, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The indictment states that beginning in 2010 and continuing until this month, Tremayne operated businesses – including Tremayne Enterprises and Timeless Treasures – that sold memorabilia that contained the fake autographs. Tremayne allegedly hired and paid other people to forge the signatures. The phony goods were sold on the Internet and were shipped via U.S. mail, FedEx, or other private or commercial interstate carriers, according to the indictment.
Federal prosecutors say Tremayne hired forgers to sign items featuring actors from the “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” movie series. Other forged signatures included Darth Vader autographs from the “Star Wars” series, plus Imperial storm trooper helmets that had fake signatures from actors in the movie series.
In November, Tremayne allegedly shipped a “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” photograph that had forged signatures of three of the television show’s personalities, according to the indictment.
The names of the sports figures weren’t immediately available.
According to the indictment, Tremayne and his memorabilia business sold more than $1 million in memorabilia items.
Tremayne has denied the charges and said the autographs were genuine.