An Oregon man is facing theft charges over the sale of phony autographed memorabilia.
Police in Eugene say Harold Gardner, 62, of Roseburg, sold sports items bearing signatures he said he’d inherited from his uncle, but were actually signed by Gardner himself.
According to the Register-Guard of Eugene, the theft charges were filed last month by the Lane County District Attorney. A probable cause affidavit indicates Gardner sold items to A&J Sports Cards—one for $1,200. Police say further investigation revealed he’d also sold fake autographs to two other Oregon shops, further south along Interstate 5.
The affidavit states that Gardner claimed the items belonged to his late uncle, Martin Gardner, a famous author. He provided a document he stated was hand-written by his uncle, stating their authenticity. However, when two of the shop owners sent the items in for evaluation by an unnamed professional authenticator, they failed to pass.
The report states that Gardner first claimed he had obtained the items as part of his uncle’s will but the executor of the estate stated Gardner wasn’t included in the will. Police say Gardner then admitted he’d forged the signatures, claiming he’d been without work and had been forging autographs on sports memorabilia to make money.
Police say Gardner was in possession of a mini bat with alleged signatures of well-known Yankees players, a bat similar to those that had been sold to the businesses.
According to the paper, Gardner was released on his own recognizance and will be in court for a pre-trial conference on April 13.