Government attorneys have now extracted guilty pleas from five of the six sports memorabilia dealers originally indicated on mail fraud charges last year and their case against the sixth man continues to move forward.
Bradley Wells of St. Petersburg, FL, opted for a guilty plea announced Thursday in connection with the sale of jerseys altered to appear game worn. Meanwhile, a superseding indictment was handed down this week against Eric Inselberg, also accused of perpetrating fraud and using the U.S. Postal Service to do it (Update: Charges against Inselberg were dropped in 2013).
A trial date has not been set.
A grand jury charged Inselberg last December and court papers now indicate he’s accused of mailing packages containing fake jerseys to addresses in St. Charles, IL and West New York, NJ during four occasions March and April of 2008.
Indictments indicate the jersey scheme involving the six men took place between 2001 and 2008 and in some cases “certificates of authenticity” were provided with the jerseys, even though the dealers knew they weren’t real.
What happened to the jerseys the government says weren’t game worn? Should Inselberg opt to plead guilty, the industry will likely never know. The cases against the six dealers remain under seal and if the government doesn’t have to display its evidence, their fate may not be revealed unless someone chooses to do so.
An FBI agent told Sports Collectors Daily last fall that investigators know what happened to them. They say hundreds of jerseys—and jersey swatches—were recovered during their investigation. “Trading card companies” are identified as the destination for at least some of the jerseys that were altered to appear game worn. Others were sold or consigned to sports memorabilia auction companies.
Court papers indicate that hundreds of replica jerseys were obtained from a variety of sources. The documents indicate that the value of the jerseys sold and auctioned was in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars”.