Three more collectors, including one who was a former employee of the club, are accusing a junior hockey team of fraud in connection with the sale of jerseys advertised as “game worn.”
According to a newspaper report, the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights already settled a civil lawsuit over the sale of a jersey worn by top draft pick Mitch Marner. Now, the Toronto Star reports in an ongoing investigation that it appeared to be routine practice for the team to alter retail jerseys to make them look game-worn, then sell them in auctions to collectors.
Taylor French, an avid jersey collector who worked in the Knights’ team store in 2012-13 told the newspaper his manager at the time “explained to me how he threw hockey pucks (at them) to replicate marks on the jersey.”
The Knights and its legal counsel haven’t responded to numerous interview requests but the original civil complaint was settled out of court, according to The Star. Last August, jersey collector Scott Galbraith said he paid $4,000 for a Marner game-worn jersey but quickly realized it had never seen ice time. At the time, the Knights denied faking game wear on jerseys.
The three people who are leveling the new allegations say they bought jerseys supposedly worn during the 2013-14 regular season and during the Memorial Cup series. In one case, a season ticket holder who bid in a pre-sale auction received a black-colored jersey but the Knights didn’t wear black in any of the Cup games.
A Michigan collector’s wife bought a jersey the Knights claimed was worn by Justin Sefton in an online auction and gave it to him as a gift. It included a letter of authenticity stating the jersey had been worn during the season and at the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup. Sefton never played for London that year, spending the entire season with the Saginaw Spirit.
A year after he worked for the team, French placed a winning bid of $900 for a jersey the club stated was worn by star player Olli Maatta during the 2013-14 season and in the 2014 Memorial Cup.
“It’s fake,” he said. “Maatta wasn’t even on the team that year. I’m not a stupid guy.”
Galbraith’s attorney told the London Free Press he doesn’t believe team ownership was aware of the fakes being passed off by team employees and was hopeful the club would settle the new cases.
You can read The Star’s latest story here.