Two more Ohio men have now been sentenced in a large sports autograph fraud scheme.
Jason Lenzi of Columbiana, OH, was fined $1,000 and ordered to spend the next six months on electronically monitored home confinement for taking part in the operation. Daniel Marino of Austintown, OH was fined $4,000 and placed on six months house arrest for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
According to WFMJ-TV in Youngstown, a Mahoning County judge also placed Lenzi on three years of probation. He had pleaded guilty earlier this year to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
The news comes two days after 27-year-old Shawn Pelo was given five years of probation on the same charge.
Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Marty Desmond says Lenzi was involved in showing some members of the group how to set up bank accounts to hide the money they were making, but Marino played a larger role, selling the fake memorabilia on eBay “on behalf of the person who was signing them,” according to Desmond.
WYTV was in the courtroom Thursday when both men were sentenced and apologized for their actions.
Five men have now pleaded guilty in the case, all of them associates of a mother-son tandem that prosecutors claim ran the bogus autograph businesses. Desmond says as many as 25,000 buyers may have been cheated out of more than $2 million through the sale of items that were not actually signed by the athletes. Phony certificates of authenticity were included with the items that were sold on eBay over a five-year period, mostly for amounts under $100.
Desmond says the scheme made use of several eBay and Paypal accounts and when those were shut down over complaints, they would open others or use existing accounts of other members to continue selling.
Two other men who’ve pleaded guilty in the case have yet to be sentenced and a grand jury is now considering charges against 30-year-old Clifton Panezich and his mother, 61-year-old Rose Panezich.