New Jersey authorities have announced the arrest of three men and charged them in connection with the theft of more than 400 NBA game-worn jerseys from a MeiGray Group storage facility last winter. The market value of the jerseys was listed at over $850,000.
Arrested, according to the Somerset County Prosecutors Office, were Mohamed Benhalima, 28, of Brooklyn, New York; John P. Schnell, 37, also of Brooklyn; and Ryan G. McDermond, 28, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. McDermond was arrested in Philadelphia on October 18, Benhalima was arrested on October 21 at his residence, while Schnell was arrested in Manhattan the same day.
The three were detained after a lengthy investigation by the FBI, Branchburg (N.J.) detectives and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Burglary Task Force, Acting Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson said. Police were acting on a tip that stolen jerseys were being offered for sale online.
All three men were charged with third-degree burglary, second-degree theft and second-degree conspiracy to commit theft on Sept. 23. The complaints were sealed until after the men were arrested.
The theft took place on December 29 at the MeiGray facility in Branchburg, New Jersey. MeiGray holds exclusive deals with numerous pro sports franchises to tag, authenticate and sell game jerseys.
Some NHL merchandise was also part of the burglary.
The company said the theft included shirts once worn by players on the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Lakers. Included on an inventory list of stolen items at the time were three Kobe Bryant jerseys, seven Blake Griffin jerseys, 13 Dwight Howard shirts, ten worn by John Wall, five each donned by Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade and Demarcus Cousins, three once donned by Steve Nash and seven each worn by Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh. All had been authenticated and tagged.
After the theft, Branchburg Police Det. Edward Edgar received a tip that stolen NBA jerseys were being sold over several internet sites, Robertson said.
Edgar said he was able to recover several jerseys and got the seller’s internet provider address and cellphone number.
Further investigations led to the arrest of the three suspects, Robertson said, but the investigation is ongoing.
There was no immediate word of how many jerseys were recovered.