A 38-year-old Knoxville, TN man has been sentenced to five years in prison and restitution for a string of sports card shop burglaries in four states last year.
Jason L.Cates, 38, was sentenced in federal court Monday for conspiring to transport stolen sports cards and other sports merchandise across state lines.
According to his plea agreement, from August 19, 2021, to October 14, 2021, Cates burglarized multiple sports cards businesses in Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, and Georgia, taking thousands of dollars of cards and other merchandise and transporting it across state lines back to his home. He then sold the cards to buyers he found online and kept the proceeds for his own financial benefit.
The plea agreement says Cates was already on supervised release following a 2015 bank robbery conviction when he broke into Webb’s Cards and Collectibles in Knoxville in August of last year, stealing several boxes of cards and then selling the contents at a card show and over the internet.
In September of last year, security cameras captured video of a burglary at Jimmy’s Kentucky Roadshow in Lexington, KY. According to the indictment, Cates and an unnamed co-conspirator drove from Knoxville to Lexington and stole about $10,000 worth of merchandise including unopened boxes of sports cards and other items.
Investigators say Cates quickly posted pictures of some of the stolen cards on Facebook Marketplace. Some of the items had identifiable serial numbers that matched the serial numbers of the stolen items. When a prospective buyer asked Cates where he got the cards, he responded “Got everything real cheap, didn’t have to pay full price, that’s why I bought it all.”
Cates was also accused of accused of making the eight hour drive to New Buffalo, MI where in the middle of the night, he used a hammer to break into The Sports Card Shop, stealing more cards which he again sold either in person or online.
Later, the indictment says Cates and his friend drove to Cartersville, GA, burglarizing Breaking Bangers three different times between October 4 and 14, stealing over $200,000 worth of merchandise from that store.
Upon tracking him down at his Knoxville home, law enforcement officers say they found multiple items that had been stolen from Breaking Bangers including some cards and merchandise that still carried labels from the shop.
In addition to his prison sentence, Cates was also ordered to pay $289,266 in restitution and $50,000 as part of a forfeiture money judgment.
Under federal law, Cates must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence. Upon his release, he’ll be on probation for three years.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Knoxville Police Department, the Cartersville (GA) Police Department and the Lexington Police Department.
Last month, two men were indicated on similar charges for hobby shop thefts in Kentucky and Tennessee.