First Arkansas Bank Sues NLR Businessman John Rogers for $14.2M

First Arkansas Bank Sues NLR Businessman John Rogers for $14.2M
John Rogers (Mark Friedman)

First Arkansas Bank & Trust of Jacksonville has sued to collect $14.2 million from North Little Rock businessman John Rogers.

The claim filed Friday in Pulaski County Circuit Court is tied to four loans made to Sports Cards Plus Inc. (Rogers Photo Archives), Planet Giant LLC and Digital Stock LLC.

All of the loans, which the bank says are delinquent, are personally guaranteed by Rogers, according to the complaint.

At various times, other signed guarantors on the debt have included his John Rogers Partners LLC; his wife, Angelica Rogers; Jacksonville businessman William "Mac" Hogan; and North Little Rock chiropractor Christopher Cathey.

However, the lawsuit filed by the bank only names John Rogers as a defendant. Angelica Rogers filed for divorce on Aug. 14, citing general indignities.

John Rogers is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the photo archive and sports memorabilia venture and hasn't been for more than six months, according to Mac Hogan, who is now running the business.

"Or it's running me," Hogan told Arkansas Business. He added that Rogers is helping with the business even though he isn't part of the management picture.

"We're trying to take advantage of his considerable knowledge, and he's being cooperative," Hogan said.

First Arkansas modified its original financing agreement five times since it started doing business with Rogers in December 2011. That lender-borrower relationship began with a revolving line of credit and a loan totaling $10 million that expanded to include two additional loans totaling $5 million.

According to the complaint, the delinquent debt encompasses:

  • Ÿ$7.1 million owed on a $7.1 million revolving line of credit established Dec. 19, 2011. No payments have been made since a regular payment of $57,000 was missed on May 19.
  • Ÿ$2.4 million owed on a $2.9 million loan made on Dec. 19, 2011. No payments have been made since a regular payment of $32,000 was missed on May 19.
  • Ÿ$1.4 million owed on a $1.5 million loan made June 22, 2012. No payments have been made since a regular payment of $15,900 was missed on May 19.
  • Ÿ$3.2 million owed on a $3.5 million loan made April 3, 2013. No payments have been made since a regular payment of $19,000 was missed on June 15.

The bank entered into a forbearance agreement with Rogers and "other guarantors" on March 21, according to the lawsuit. That agreement called for a lump-sum payment of $500,000 on June 15, which wasn't made.

The forbearance agreement arose after First Arkansas gave notice on Jan. 29 of loan default. That was the day after federal agents executed search warrants at Rogers' North Little Rock business and home.

No criminal charges have resulted from that action.

A month earlier, according to the complaint, Rogers acknowledged to First Arkansas that he had failed to provide annual audited financial statements, which was a breach of the loan agreements. The bank agreed to postpone declaring the loans in default if Rogers provided audited financial statements by June 30.

"We've got a deal working with the bank, and they're being very cooperative," Hogan said. "Their patience has probably got a finite property to it."

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Rogers indicated the seizure of assets by the FBI caused collateral problems for the $3.5 million loan.

Hogan, however, told Arkansas Business that the business' financial problems weren't the result of one delinquent loan.

"More of the problem is the total amount of the loans, and they're not being serviced," Hogan said.

What happened that the business couldn't service its debt any more?

"I'm going to let John Rogers answer that," Hogan said.

Rogers couldn't be reached for comment, nor could Cathey.

Sandwiched between the FBI raid and the First Arkansas lawsuit is a $765,000 breach of contract case filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court against Rogers and his Sports Card Plus.

The money represents the outstanding balance owed on his purchase of the famed George Burke & George Brace Collection of photographic negatives.

Mary Brace of Chicago, heir to the collection, claims Rogers failed to make a scheduled payment of $85,000 in April and also failed to provide her a digital copy of the collection per the sales contract.

The epic collection consisted of an estimated 250,000 original negatives. The images contained in the cache include more than 10,000 National and American League players, ranging from superstars to virtual unknowns who played at Chicago’s Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park between 1929 and 1994.

More On This Story