THIRD IN A SERIES
The March 1999 death of Joe DiMaggio rebooted the forgery ring that was taken down by the FBI later that year. The book "Operation Bullpen" includes details on how the group cranked their operation back up despite clear signs the Bureau was closing in.
Kevin Nelson, author of the book that is set to be released next month, interviewed the major players in the case including "master forger" Greg Marino. Nelson recounts the story of what happened when the Yankee Clipper passed away and the corrupt Stan’s Sports Memorabilia came calling:
Despite its agreement to suspend operations for a month, the group sprang back into action. That morning, Stan the Man ordered a thousand DiMaggio baseballs from Wayne(Bray–Greg Marino’s partner), who turned around and called his local equipment supplier for the blanks.
After it was announced that the Greatest Living Yankee was no more, they pounced, and Joe D. photos and balls flooded a market already brimming with fakes.
The Land Cruiser arrived at Greg’s with six hundred blank baseballs, four hundred DiMaggio 8x10s, four dozen blank helmets and six dozen blank bats. Remembering how he had motivated Greg after Mantle’s death, Wayne said that if Greg filled Stan’s order he could do better than an Explorer and buy a new Expedition.
"I tagged Stan’s (credit) card for $20,000 after that one," said Wayne. Suddenly back in overdrive, he and the guys loaded up Greg’s apartment and Smokewood Place with gaggles of Joe D. merchandise. Rocking and rolling on crystal meth, Greg pumped it out. Over the wire, the FBI got a sense of how busy things were when Gloria (Marino–Greg’s mother) remarked that their garage was full with merchandise."
"Yeah, said Andrea (Greg’s sister). "Everyone will believe he signed all those things before he died."
"Shut up!" said Gloria, knowing how dangerous it was to talk like that over the phone.
But Andrea didn’t like being told to shut up and said so. "I’m getting nauseous about everyone talking in code all the time," she told her mother.