A 44-year-old Arkansas woman has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges for her role in the sale of phony sports memorabilia peddled by disgraced former memorabilia dealer and photo archivist John Rogers.
In court papers filed last week in a Little Rock, Amber Michelle Davis admitted that between May 2016 and September 2017 she worked with Rogers and another person described as “Individual 1” to create and sell 25-35 fake items to unsuspecting buyers.
According to the plea agreement, Davis became Rogers’ live-in girlfriend about 3 1/2 years ago and he told her at the time that he was under federal investigation for fraud. Nevertheless, prosecutors say she went along with Rogers’ plan to create and sell bogus items.
In 2017, Rogers pleaded guilty to defrauding banks and individual investors out of nearly $25 million while creating numerous forged pieces of sports memorabilia. To secure loans, Rogers had used multiple fake jerseys, sports cards and other memorabilia as collateral. In 2017, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In the plea agreement, Davis admits materials were purchased and modified to create the items and make them look historic before they were put up for sale. Among the pieces sold, according to court documents, were travel trunks described as having been used by well-known former players, vintage Notre Dame and Boston Celtics memorabilia, a John F. Kennedy briefcase and at least three baseballs “associated with famous athletes.”
Some of the money that a person identified only as “Individual 1” made from selling the forgeries was sent to a bank account opened by Davis at Rogers’ direction while other proceeds went into a different account belonging to Davis.
Davis’ guilty plea on the wire fraud charge is from what investigators say was a $9,000 wire transfer in August of 2016 from Paragon Auctions to an account at Arkansas Federal Credit Union in Davis’ name. According to the plea agreement, the money was for a forged item sold by “Individual 1” to Paragon’s unsuspecting owner, Keith Vari.
Davis has agreed to forfeit proceeds from her involvement in the scheme and pay back victims in the case. Federal prosecutors are seeking over $60,000 in restitution.
She is free until her as yet undetermined sentencing date but must meet court-ordered guidelines.