Two men are accused of stealing more than $75,000 worth of sports cards from stores in Kentucky and Tennessee.
A federal grand jury in Kentucky on Thursday indicted Coy Lee Best, 35, of Friendsville, Tennessee, and Thomas Zebulon Kasemeyer, 33, of Blount County, Tennessee, on charges of conspiracy and the interstate transportation of stolen goods with a value of $5,000 or more.
According to court documents from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, the two men stole cards from stores specializing in sports cards and memorabilia, taking merchandise worth thousands of dollars. Prosecutors alleged that Lee and Kasemeyer resold the stolen goods to other sports card businesses in other cities and states.
The burglaries were spread across an eight-month period beginning in May 2021.
The indictment charges that on May 2, 2021, Kasemeyer used a hammer to smash out the glass door at a sports card business in Knoxville, Tennessee. Prosecutors alleged that Kasemeyer stole baseball and basketball cards valued at more than $30,000. Best waited outside the shop and served as the driver, according to the indictment. The two men allegedly sold the cards a few days later to a business in Corbin, Kentucky, according to the indictment.
While the indictment did not name the Knoxville shop, Sports Collectors Daily reported at the time that Eddie’s Sports Treasures was the store hit by the thieves. Shop owner Eddie Barker estimated that more than $54,000 worth of merchandise had been stolen.
“I’ve got probably 200 different items on the shelves and he took all the most expensive ones and he did it within two minutes,” Barkley told WATE-TV. “One of the boxes that he took, it retails for $3,500. And I had eight of those taken.”
According to the indictment, Kasemeyer and Best are accused of burglarizing another Tennessee store. The men allegedly robbed merchandise from a store in Mt Juliet, Tennessee, located east of Nashville, on Dec. 24, 2021. Prosecutors said the men grabbed more than $30,000 worth of football and basketball cards.
According to a Sports Collectors Daily report, the men broke into Nashcards and took at least 35 boxes of recent product, including a pair of 2020-21 National Treasures Basketball; a box of 2019 National Treasures Football; five 2014-15 Court Kings Basketball Rookie Edition; a case of 2020-21 Mosaic Basketball blasters; and 14 cello boxes of 2020-21 Mosaic Basketball cello.
“They got us, guys,” store owner Chris Kelsey said in a video he posted on Instagram a day after the break-in. “They got us last minute.”
Kelsey called the robbery “a five-minute smash-and-grab” and called the thieves “not the smartest criminals because they left a lot of stuff,” including boxes of Panini Spectra and singles cards in the store’s case that included a Michael Jordan autograph card and “a lot of my wax.”
When Kasemeyer and Best attempted to sell the stolen cards three days later in Corbin, the store’s manager refused to buy the merchandise. Prosecutors said that Kasemeyer and Best then took the stolen items to a shop in St. Paul, Virginia, where they found a willing buyer.
According to prosecutors, the two men returned to Kentucky on Jan. 12, 2022, and took merchandise from a sports card shop in Montgomery County. As in the other cases, Kasemeyer allegedly broke into the business while Best waited outside in a vehicle to leave the scene. Prosecutors said the pair drove back to eastern Tennessee with more than $10,000 in stolen goods.
Circling back to Kentucky, Kasemeyer and Best allegedly broke into a sports card shop in Fayette County on Jan. 17, 2022, prosecutors said. The indictment states that Kasemeyer stole multiple boxes of National Treasures sports cards and a framed set of individual graded cards. Best waited outside the store and drove the pair back to Tennessee. Also stolen was an autographed card of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow; the value of the stolen items was approximately $5,000, prosecutors said.
While prosecutors did not name the store where the items were taken from, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that the theft occurred at a shop in Lexington.
Prosecutors added that Best sold most of the items stolen from the Jan. 17 theft, including the Burrows autograph card, to a store in Lenoir City, Tennessee.
The indictment states that the two men must forfeit any of the merchandise taken and/or any money derived from any of the sales, “an amount equal to the gross proceeds in aggregate obtained by the defendants as a result” of the alleged thefts.
If convicted of the conspiracy charges, Kasemeyer and Best face up to five years in prison. The interstate transportation charge is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
In July, a Tennessee man pleaded guilty to a string of similar card shop burglaries. Jason Cates admitted to burglarizing stores in Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Georgia during the summer and early fall of 2021, transporting and selling stolen goods across state lines. In a sentencing memo, prosecutors have asked for the maximum five-year term of imprisonment and a 3-year term of supervised release.