Four Men Sentenced For Fraud Involving Sports Memorabilia
ROCKFORD – Three men were sentenced today in federal court by U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard on separate fraud schemes involving the sports memorabilia business and the purchase and sale of equipment and uniforms used by professional and collegiate athletes: BERNARD GERNAY, 39, a resident of Howell, N.J., involved in the business operations of Pro Sports Investments, Inc., a New Jersey business, and JARROD OLDRIDGE, 39, a resident of Las Vegas, involved in business operations of JO Sports, Inc., a Nevada business, were each sentenced to 6 months in federal prison; and BRADLEY HORNE, 41, a Sunset, S.C. resident, involved in the business operations of Authentic Sports Memorabilia, Inc., a South Carolina business, was sentenced to 3 months in federal prison. In addition, each defendant was also ordered to serve 3 years of supervised release following release from prison, and restitution for each defendant will be determined within 60 days of sentencing.
All three men pled guilty to mail fraud charges on Nov. 21, 2011. According to the plea agreements, each case involved the sale, consignment, or auction of jerseys, in which each defendant falsely and fraudulently represented to buyers that the jerseys were “game used,” when they were not. Jerseys worn by professional and collegiate athletes during a game are usually known as “game used” or “game worn,” and are commonly bought and sold by collectors and others. The value of game used jerseys varies based on the popularity of the player that used the jersey and how long it had been since the player had actively played the sport. The value of a jersey was greater if it was game used. The fraud charges also involved the defendants selling what were represented to be game used jerseys to other persons knowing the jerseys were intended to then be sold to sports trading card companies. As stated in the charges, to increase the value and price of packages of sports trading cards, manufacturers frequently purchase game used jerseys, cut the jerseys into small pieces, and insert the pieces into card packages. When game used jerseys were purchased for this purpose, the manufacturers often required that the seller provide a "certificate of authenticity" that the jerseys were authentic game used jerseys.
Gernay, Oldridge and Horne each admitted the jerseys they sold were altered to appear game worn, such as replacing the name and number on a jersey from one player to another more noteworthy player, changing the shape of the jerseys, and adding patches or other identifiable marks on the jerseys. Even though jerseys were not game used, the three men sold the jerseys to other persons they knew intended to re-sell, consign, and auction the jerseys, or to sports trading card companies and others, by falsely representing the jerseys were game used.
A fourth man, Bradley Wells, 32, of St. Petersburg, Fla., was charged in an indictment on Oct. 25, 2011, with a similar fraud scheme between 2005 and 2009 under the name Authentic Sports, Inc., Historic Auctions, LLC, and his own name, to market and sell fraudulent sports memorabilia represented as “game used.” Wells pled guilty to mail fraud on Sept. 6, 2012, and was sentenced on Oct. 16, 2013, to 6 months in federal prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release, with restitution to be determined within 60 days of his sentencing.
The sentencings were announced today by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Shields, Jr., Acting Special Agent-In-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Love.