After several men from northeast Ohio pleaded guilty last year, Ohio prosecutors promised more charges were coming in a major fraud case involving fake autographs sold on eBay. This week, a grand jury is considering evidence that could put a 61-year-old woman and her son on trial.
WFMJ-TV in Youngstown reported Wednesday that prosecutors believe Rose Panezich and her 30-year-old son Clifton are the masterminds behind the biggest case of domestic fraud in eBay history, one that cheated 25,000 buyers out of more than $2 million over a long period of time.
Clifton Panezich appeared in court Wednesday after being extradited from Henderson, NV where he had been held in jail since late last year. He and his mother are facing charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Mahoning County Prosecutor Marty Desmond told SC Daily last year that those who’ve already pleaded guilty in the case played smaller roles in the scheme, which involved forging names of pro athletes onto thousands of items and including phony certificates of authenticity with them. He says the money that came from unsuspecting buyers was laundered through bank accounts belonging to others.
Desmond told us in December that Major League Baseball had expressed interest in the case, which Desmond says ran for about five years.
Both Panezich and his mother have waived their rights to a speedy trial while they wait to see whether the grand jury recommends they stand trial.
According to the TV station’s report, Clifton Panezich’s bond was set at $100,000. Rose Panezich is free on her own recognizance.
Panezich, a former college and semi-pro baseball player, transferred to Martin-Methodist College in 2007 where he listed his graduation plans as “running an eBay business.”