A 38-year-old South Carolina man has pleaded guilty in federal court to trafficking in counterfeit goods including some autographed memorabilia that wasn’t real.
Evidence presented at a change of plea hearing established that Joshua D. Korb ran an online eBay store called Steel-Town Memorabilia. The investigation was initiated from a request by the NFL because of numerous complaints received by eBay and PayPal that Korb sold counterfeit NFL merchandise and sports memorabilia.
Agents from the United States Postal Inspection Service made six undercover purchases from Steel-Town Memorabilia of NFL merchandise advertised as authentic. Experts examined all the merchandise and determined all of the items were counterfeit because they were not manufactured by the trademark holder, not licensed or authorized by the NFL, contained a fake certificate of authenticity, or contained a forged signature.
Based on the results from the undercover buys, federal agents obtained and executed a search warrant on Korb’s home in Greenville where they seized 2,911 pieces of NFL memorabilia including counterfeit jerseys, forged signatures of current and former NFL players on NFL replica footballs and jerseys, and forged signatures of current and former NFL players on photos and posters. Agents also seized counterfeit certificate of authenticity seals.
In an interview with agents, Korb admitted that he purchased and sold counterfeit merchandise through his Steel-Town Memorabilia store. He told agents he forged the names of current and former NFL players to the items he was selling.
Korb told agents he started Steel-Town Memorabilia as a part-time business in 2006 after the Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL but it expanded into a full-time business after the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.
Law enforcement estimates that Korb trafficked in more than $4 million worth of counterfeit goods before the search warrant shut down his business.
Senior United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., of Greenville, accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
The case was investigated by agents of the United States Postal Inspection Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, representatives of the NFL, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball also assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.
Update (10/17): Korb was sentenced to five years probation.