A Pennsylvania sports memorabilia shop owner was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release this week after pleading guilty to selling unlicensed products and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.
Sal Argo, 35, who owned and operated Sports Scene in the Laurel Mall near Hazleton, will also pay fines, court costs and restitution.
Court papers obtained by Sports Collectors Daily indicated that the maximum penalties in the case would have been a 20-year prison sentence and $2.25 million fine.
A private investigation by NFL and NHL representatives led to his arrest by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers earlier this year. Argo had been set to hold an autograph signing with several Philadelphia Eagles players when the event was shut down and federal officers eventually confiscated 457 unlicensed jerseys and 818 unlicensed photos from his store. 511 additional photos were taken from Argo’s vehicle.
He claimed in interviews with Pennsylvania media that the items came from other dealers around the country who sent them to him for autographs from guests at his signing sessions.
Argo was already on probation after being convicted of felony mail fraud in 2002 for selling unlicensed goods. The prior arrest may have had something to do with the government’s demand for prison time. He was also found to be in possession of a rifle and shotgun. Convicted felons are not allowed to keep firearms.
As part of the plea arrangement, Argo also agreed to provide investigators with the names of other dealers who sell counterfeit goods online.