U.S. Attorney in Chicago Charges John Rogers for Fraud

U.S. Attorney in Chicago Charges John Rogers for Fraud
John Rogers, a booking photo from Dec. 3, 2015. (Pulaski County Detention Center)

The U.S. Attorney in Chicago leveled long-expected fraud charges against John Rogers, the former owner of Sports Card Plus and Rogers Photo Archive of North Little Rock.

An eight-page document (PDF), outlining some of the alleged crimes committed by the fallen sports memorabilia and photo archive collector, was filed Friday by Zachary T. Fardon, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

The document, called an "information," contains a single charge of felony wire fraud and accuses Rogers of scheming "to fraudulently obtain at least approximately $10 million" from investors, financial institutions and customers.

The U.S. Attorney alleges Rogers made false statements to investors and lenders that were supported by forged contracts, bogus certificates of authenticity, phantom assets, counterfeit sports memorabilia and more.

Rogers' alleged fraud — committed against First Arkansas Bank & Trust of Jacksonville and Bank of Little Rock — are mentioned without naming the lenders. The banks are identified as Financial Institution 1 and 2 in the filing.

The oldest alleged fraud recounted in the filing dates back November 2009 when Rogers sold a counterfeit Heisman Trophy. The incident involved his altering a ceremonial Heisman Trophy to resemble a 1978 trophy awarded to Billy Sims.

According to the information, Rogers changed the nameplate on the ceremonial Heisman to indicate that it was the trophy awarded to Sims, and created a document, purportedly signed by Sims, attesting to its authenticity. He then pledged the trophy as collateral to a investor for a $100,000 loan, according to the U.S. Attorney.

The trophy is connected to a $12.3 million lawsuit, filed in January 2015, by Rogers' former business partner, William "Mac" Hogan. Hogan alleged that Rogers committed multiple acts of fraud as part of a Ponzi-style scheme that often involved phantom transactions. In the lawsuit, Hogan said he invested $150,000 for a 50 percent stake in the "Sims" Heisman trophy.

The U.S. Attorney outlined other alleged schemes in the information, including Rogers selling sports memorabilia he knew to be bogus, and telling investors that he had contracts to purchase collections of sports memorabilia and photo archives "when he knew these statements were false because the deals did not exist and because he often created forged contracts that were shown to investors."

Rogers has remained free since his business and home were raided by federal agents nearly three years ago. But he was ordered to wear an ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts and not travel outside Arkansas after allegedly stealing hard drives with digital images from his former office a year ago.

Previously: A snapshot of the legal problems facing John Rogers.

Friday's filing comes after a Rogers associate, Mark Theotikos, was sentenced to 12 months and a day in federal prison earlier this year for his part in a shill bidding scheme at Mastro Auctions of Chicago.

Theotikos, former vice president of auction operations and acquisitions at the auction house, was the last of four defendants to be sentenced in connection with the fraudulent sports memorabilia dealings there. He was indicted on six counts of mail and wire fraud in July 2012.

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