FBI Searches John Rogers' Business, Home

The FBI on Tuesday searched the home and business of John Rogers, owner of the Rogers Photo Archive, in North Little Rock. But the agency wouldn't say why.

FBI spokeswoman Kimberly Brunell would only confirm that agents were at 2501 N. Poplar, the address for the archive, and 3700 Avondale Road, Rogers' home.

"That's all I can say at this time," Brunell said.

At 10:30 a.m., FBI agents wearing "Evidence Response Team" T-shirts could be seen inside the archive office, which has a mannequin of New York Yankee legend Babe Ruth in the front window.

Rogers couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday morning. His attorney, Blake Hendrix of Little Rock, said he was with Rogers while the FBI conducted its search.

"We fully cooperated with the agents," Hendrix told Arkansas Business. "We don't know the subject or the scope [of the investigation] yet. The affidavits are filed under seal."

Hendrix didn't have a timeline for when the federal government will make its next move.

"At this point it's too early to tell," he said, adding that he'll have an inventory of what the agents took on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District in Little Rock said she couldn't comment.

Rogers owns a large collection of historic images, having acquired the entire archives of publications including the Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Post, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, the St. Petersburg Times, Seattle Times and Boston Herald.

Rogers' collection includes about 200 million images. The business holds rare and never-before-seen photographs of sports and political figures. Rogers licenses the images and sells prints and other products derived from them through his company's website and on eBay.

In February 2013, two former archive employees waived indictment and pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

According to the Eastern District U.S. Attorney's office, Christopher Jackson of Alexander, and Steve Bernard Roby of North Little Rock pleaded guilty to a scheme in which they diverted funds submitted by customers purchasing photographs from the archive to their personal PayPal accounts. The pair also stole thousands of photographs and sold many on eBay.

In June, Jackson was sentenced to 33 months imprisonment, two years of supervised release, more than $138,000 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. In July, Roby was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, one year of supervised release, a $100 special assessment and more than $138,000 in restitution.