A dealer kicked out of the 2018 National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland was scheduled to plead not guilty to forgery and other charges for selling fake autographs this week. An arraignment for Tony Podsada, 69, of Davie, FL, was scheduled for Wednesday but then postponed until Thursday in Cuyahoga County Court. Records indicate Podsada’s request to waive his personal appearance and enter a written plea of not guilty was accepted by Judge Brendan Sheehan last week. Podsada suffers from heart issues is considered to be at high risk during COVID-19.
Podsada had already entered a not guilty plea to the same charges last year but that case was dismissed in May as a matter of procedure and then re-filed.
Not long after the show opened at the IX Center on August 1, 2018, police arrived at Podsada’s booth and carted away dozens of items suspected of carrying non-genuine signatures of former athletes. Undercover video released later through a Cleveland TV station showed Podsada stating “all of these autographs are authentic. But I don’t sell ‘em as authentic. I sell them as decorative items.”
On April 27 of this year, Podsada was indicted by an Ohio grand jury on numerous charges including forgery, petty theft, criminal stimulation and 25 counts of trademark counterfeiting since some of the items in his inventory carried what prosecutors say were phony MLB trademarks.
The indictment centers on one transaction that took place not long after the show opened in which a Louisiana collector purchased seven items with a total of twelve allegedly forged signatures of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle; Billy Martin, Ed Kranepool, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, Sandy Koufax and Joe DiMaggio. All were immediately dismissed by a professional authenticator at the show as being forged.
The indictment claims Podsada’s purpose was to defraud “evidenced in part, by his current and prior history of marketing fake sports memorabilia, his use of deceptive promotional efforts coupled, the number of duplicates within his confiscated inventory, and readily identifiable hallmarks of forgery and or simulation.”
In 2003, Podsada pleaded guilty to federal charges in New Jersey for owing $300,000 in unpaid taxes from the sale of what’s described in federal court papers as “autographed sports memorabilia” during the 1990s. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison with three years of supervised release.
Last year, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Brent Kirvel told SC Daily that Podsada once sold items out of a south Florida flea market but no longer rents space there.