Federal fraud charges have been filed against former sports memorabilia dealer and photo archivist John Rogers of North Little Rock, AR.
In an eight-page document filed last Friday, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon outlined the government’s case against the former owner of Sports Cards Plus and Rogers Photo Archive, one that includes allegations of creating fake memorabilia, lying about items he owned while securing millions of dollars in bank loans and even impersonating another sports memorabilia executive.
Rogers is accused of using his businesses to fraudulently obtain at least $10 million from investors and banks who became victims by loaning him money they never saw again. Government lawyers claim the scheme ran from 2009 and continued until January 2014, when FBI agents raided Rogers’ home and business.
In court papers filed with the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Fardon alleges that Rogers created fake deals and lured investors with promises of profits with forged contracts.
Fardon’s filing states that Rogers used the bogus contracts and fake sports memorabilia to secure loans for his businesses and used the money he received from those banks and investors to repay customers who caught on that he was selling phony items.
An item mentioned specifically in court papers was a ceremonial copy of a Heisman Trophy Rogers bought at an auction in 2009. The government claims Rogers created a fake nameplate for the award—and a letter of authenticity upon which he forged the player’s signature– in an attempt to make it a much more valuable player-owned trophy. Rogers is accused of using the inflated value of the trophy as collateral for a bank loan.
The information filing also states that Rogers created an email account using the name of at least one long-time sports memorabilia dealer in an attempt to convince a customer to buy one of the items he was selling. Rob Lifson of Robert Edward Auctions was told by FBI agents that Rogers had attempted to impersonate him in an attempt to give credence to some of the fake memorabilia Rogers was attempting to sell.
Rogers apologized for his actions in a Facebook post earlier Monday, blaming his misdeeds on a drug addiction.
One of Rogers’ business associates was Doug Allen, the former Mastro Auctions president now serving a 57-month federal prison sentence. In a taped conversation with Rogers while supposedly cooperating with the FBI, Allen warned Rogers of an impending visit by agents, one which compromised their security, according to prosecutors who asked for—and got—a stiff prison sentence for Allen.
Rogers Photo Archive was a business which purchased newspaper archives with the promise of digitizing the images for the papers to use in exchange for the opportunity to market the original photos as collectors items. Sports Cards Plus was a brick-and-mortar hobby shop Rogers operated in the Little Rock area for several years.