Legal Fallout Facing John Rogers Mounts

Legal Fallout Facing John Rogers Mounts
In court filings, receiver Michael McAfee says security camera footage shows John Rogers entering the archive offices late one night against the terms of a lease agreement. Above, a screenshot from the footage.

A new lawsuit, an expanded fraud complaint, a default judgment and a contempt hearing have added to the legal tapestry woven around North Little Rock businessman John Rogers.

Bank of Little Rock is a common thread in two of the actions in Pulaski County Circuit Court. The bank recently sued William “Mac” Hogan of North Little Rock to collect $590,833 on his personal guaranty of a defaulted business loan to Rogers.

That December 2013 loan also is part of the bank’s fraud complaint against the embattled photo and sports memorabilia dealer that now includes two of his long-time friends: Kenneth Patrick Hammonds and Earl Scott.

Bank of Little Rock claims that Rogers deceived its staff into making a $900,000 loan to purchase equipment to support his digital copying operations.However, no equipment was bought.

Instead, most of the money was funneled back to Rogers with the alleged help of Hammonds and Scott, the bank says.

Hammonds is described as a friend of Rogers since childhood by those familiar with the men. No criminal charges have been filed against Hammonds or Scott, who played on the offensive line alongside Rogers at North Little Rock High School and went on to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks (1992-95).

Rogers, 42, is the subject of a federal criminal investigation involving a Ponzi-style investment scheme, counterfeit sports memorabilia and more. A month after Rogers secured the Bank of Little Rock funding, federal agents executed search warrants at his business and his grand home in North Little Rock on Jan. 28, 2014.

It’s unclear what Hammonds and Scott knew about the money that moved through the bank accounts they allegedly controlled. Neither has responded to interview requests.

Scott’s alleged involvement with Rogers and the Bank of Little Rock funds was first reported in July by Arkansas Business.

According to bank records, the $900,000 loan flowed from Bank of Little Rock on Christmas Eve of 2013 to an empty bank account in the name of Demos Digital Media LLC, the sham seller of the equipment.

The bank alleges that Hammonds controlled the limited liability company and its Wells Fargo bank account in Beaverton, Oregon.

Two days later, $655,230 was wired back to Arkansas to a Bank of the Ozarks account in Bryant controlled by Scott.

Also on Dec. 26, 2013, a $650,230 check was written on Scott’s small business account to John Rogers and deposited in a Centennial Bank account.

The same day, $232,578 was withdrawn from the Demos Digital account in the name of Hammonds.

Bank records also indicate that additional withdrawals of $7,000 on Dec. 31, 2013 and $4,000 on Jan. 18, 2014, both bearing the name of Hammonds, were made from the Demos account. Debit card activity pushed the account balance into a $500 deficit in the following weeks before Wells Fargo shut it down.

Judgments & Contempt

The dollar total of summary and default judgments against Rogers personally has climbed to $19 million, part of a $41 million tally against him or his former venture, Sports Cards Plus Inc.

The latest addition to the roster of judgments against Rogers is a $1.2 million default judgment awarded to Chris Cathey of North Little Rock, an investor and former friend of Rogers.

Cathey’s financial claims were tied to money invested in a bogus newspaper photo archive deal involving The Oklahoman, money owed from a baseball cards investment and money loaned to Sports Cards Plus to keep the business afloat after the 2014 FBI raid.

Rogers and his Dallas lawyer, Brett Myers, were no-shows at the Sept. 4 damages hearing in Pulaski County Circuit Court. In addition to compensatory damages of $524,729, Cathey was awarded $736,993 in punitive damages.

Two consent judgments held by Hogan and John Conner Jr. of Newport against Sports Cards Plus add nearly $22 million to the financial fallout.

An Oct. 21 hearing is scheduled to address, among other things, a motion for contempt against Rogers. That action stems from his late-night visit to the Sports Cards Plus facility in North Little Rock on Aug. 22.

From the perspective of the court-appointed receiver for Sports Cards Plus, the event amounted to criminal trespass and theft of property.

“He has no legal right to be on the property under any circumstances,” said Michael McAfee.

McAfee said Rogers stole three hard drives purchased by the receivership that contained backup copies of digital images valued at about $400,000 on the company’s books.

In his response to the motion for contempt, Rogers implied that the hard drives he took were ones he had purchased and contained no data.

Rogers also claimed he had legal authority to access the building under a sublease with his ex-wife, Angelica, landlord of the property since their speedy divorce last year.

That claim runs contrary to a clause in the lease between McAfee and Angelica Rogers that prohibits leasing or subleasing any part of the property to any other party during the Sport Cards Plus receivership lease.

Security camera footage captured Rogers leaving the building with the hard drives bulging under his jacket, according to McAfee.

By his account, Rogers gathered the hard drives as an afterthought to his prime reason for being in the building at 11:44 p.m. on a Saturday night: retrieving his son’s allergy medicine.

Rogers spent a night in the Pulaski County jail on July 23 after being arrested on a contempt warrant for failing to comply with court orders to turn over documents to lead creditor First Arkansas Bank & Trust of Jacksonville.

The bank is growing impatient again with his cooperation in its collection efforts on its $14.6 million-plus-interest judgment against him.

Rogers collected $3,400 by closing out a Charles Schwab brokerage account on Aug. 19, the same day First Arkansas served a writ of garnishment to seize the money.

Two days later, the bank was more successful in collecting a different asset of Rogers: his 2003 Yukon. That tow truck haul took place the day before Rogers allegedly seized hard drives that secured debt held by First Arkansas.