Oregon residents who got to tour the ‘museum’ of a wealthy financial advisor over the years got to see quite a collection of sports memorabilia. Too bad he might have been using their elderly relatives money to finance it.
Wes Rhodes seemed like the perfect guy to care for your life savings. He was a fixture in Portland, Oregon’s business community for twenty years. But Rhodes had a secret. His appetite for material goods, including sports memorabilia, was apparently greater than his desire to do what he had promised over 100 clients: invest the funds entrusted to him.
The 56 year-old Rhodes has been barred from the financial services industry in Oregon and has had his state license revoked. According to prosecutors, Rhodes spent millions of dollars on an expensive lifestyle that included vintage automobiles and sports memorabilia.
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Portland last September alleging he had defrauded investors. Michael Grassmueck, the trustee a federal judge appointed last fall to recover assets for Rhodes’ investors, told Williamette Weekly Rhodes stole at least $24.6 million from about 60 investors in his last seven years in business. The real total may be far greater, investors say.
An inventory of Rhodes property done recently by investigators reveals quite a list of items, many of them Hall of Fame autographs.
Courtesy of the state of Oregon, you can even take a photo tour of the sports memorabilia that could wind up coming to an auction house near you.
It’s not the first instance of its kind.
A suburban Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty in April to embezzling more than $400,000 from the insurance company he worked for, using the money to buy "expensive sports cards, sports memorabilia and vehicles."
Federal prosecutors working the case say Richard Slonchka, 57, of Kennedy Township, was a claims adjuster with Universal Underwriters Insurance Co., now known as Zurich.
Between April 1997 and April 2002, Slonchka had the insurance company write 140 checks totaling more than $400,000 purportedly for workers’ compensation claims he had approved, prosecutors said. The money instead wound up in Slonchka’s possession.
Slonchka will be sentenced August 31st.
Authentic sports autographs at: ProSportsMemorabilia.com