The Bergen County, New Jersey prosecutor is still under fire for an auction of signed sports memorabilia held there earlier this year. Now, a New York TV station is investigating why John Molinelli ignored warnings that the autographs were fake.
The items originally belonged to William Stracher, a local pharmacist who prosecutors say profited from the illegal sale of prescription drugs and laundered the money by spending it on baseball memorabilia.
The authentic pieces in Stracher’s collection were sold at auction several years ago, but hundreds of leftover items deemed to be non-genuine wound up being seized by authorities. Molinelli’s office hired Drew Max, a forensic document examiner you may have seen on earlier episodes of the cable TV show Pawn Stars, to authenticate them. A large number were destroyed after examination but hundreds of pieces supposedly bearing the autographs of Hall of Famers, Yankee championship team members and others, were put up in an auction conducted by the prosecutor’s office once Max examined them and indicated they were authentic.
Others in the hobby who had seen the autographs wondered how they ever got that far, especially after being rejected years earlier.
WPIX-TV investigative reporter Howard Thompson went looking for answers,. Earlier, we presented that first part of the report. On Thursday night, WPIX aired the second, longer portion of his story, with additional detail.