New Lawsuit Says John Rogers Owes $9.6M in Loans, Unpaid Bill

New Lawsuit Says John Rogers Owes $9.6M in Loans, Unpaid Bill
John Rogers

Another lawsuit alleging fraud has been filed against embattled photo and sports memorabilia dealer John Rogers.

John Conner Jr. of Newport and his Holden-Conner Farms Inc. and Newport Archives Inc. claim Rogers owes nearly $9.6 million related to five loans and a large unpaid bill.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court, also names as defendants Sports Cards Plus Inc. and JRS Cards Inc.

Sports Cards Plus, which did business as Rogers Photo Archive, is among four businesses once controlled by Rogers that were put in receivership on Jan. 5. On Tuesday, an Atlanta investment group offered to buy the assets of the businesses for $59 million.

Discounting requested punitive damages, Conner's lawsuit pushes the tally of financial claims against Rogers to more than $28.7 million. It also joins two other claims that allege fraud in dealings with Rogers: a claim made last month by Bank of Little Rock involving a $900,000 loan to Rogers, and a February 2014 lawsuit by Mark Roberts of San Francisco involving Rogers' $2.6 million purchase of a photo collection.

Conner is among a group of associates who helped Rogers build his photo archive business, which Rogers began assembling in 2009. Others include Mac Hogan, owner and chairman of Poloplaz Inc. and Air-Tech Coatings Inc. of Jacksonville, and Christopher Cathey, a North Little Rock chiropractor.  

Conner's complaint describes loans to finance phantom transactions along with simple delinquent loan claims. In order of size, the financial claims include:

• $2.3 million for unpaid digitization work performed by Newport Archives for Sports Card Plus and Rogers.

Conner formed Newport Archives in May 2013 to provide services for archives owned or controlled by Rogers and his ventures.

• $1.8 million owed on a June 2013 loan to Sports Cards Plus from Holden-Conner Farms to buy the Greenwood Collection and the Digital First photo archive.

Rogers misrepresented the existence and contents of the Greenwood Collection, the complaint alleges.

• $1.6 million owed on an October 2013 loan from Conner to Rogers and Sports Card Plus to buy the Marvin Newman Collection. The agreement called for Conner and Rogers to split ownership of the photographer's work, which appeared in Life, Look, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and Smithsonian magazines.

• $1.45 million owed on a June 2013 loan from Holden-Conner Farms to Rogers and JRS Cards as an advance against the pending sale of a 1924 Babe Ruth home run bat.

Conner's complaint said Rogers misrepresented the existence of a valid sales contract. The sale of the bat never happened, although Rogers maintained a deal was imminent and as proof even provided instructions for a wire transfer that never materialized, the complaint said.

• $700,000 owed on an October 2012 loan from Conner to Rogers to buy the Chicago Tribune photo archives. The complaint said the archives weren't purchased.

• $375,000 owed on an August 2013 loan from Holden Conner Farms to Sports Card Plus to buy equipment.

The complaint also asks for $10 million in punitive damages to further punish Rogers for his "willful and intentional fraud and to deter others from engaging in similar misconduct."

The Bank of Little Rock claim alleges that Rogers "intentionally misused" a loan earmarked for the purchase of business equipment. It said Rogers knowingly made false representations about the purpose of the money, using it for another purpose. 

The Roberts lawsuit says at least 50 photographs presented and sold as original, authentic and vintage by Rogers to Roberts were deemed by the FBI to problematic in authenticity.

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