Case Closed: The Final Orders of Four John Rogers Lawsuits

Case Closed: The Final Orders of Four John Rogers Lawsuits
Legendary baseball photographer George Brace poses with outfielder Jeff Heath, left, and future Hall of Famer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians.

Though dormant on the court dockets, some lawsuits against John Rogers and his business ventures remain technically active. A handful have run their course:

Pulaski County Circuit Court

Final Order: March 11, 2015

Mary Brace of Chicago obtains a $765,000 summary judgment against John Rogers for money owed on the $1.35 million purchase of the famed George Burke & George Brace Collection of photographic negatives.

The epic collection originally 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.

Footnote: Though successful in the case she filed on July 11, 2014, Brace was deemed a secondary creditor and received nothing from a court-ordered sale of the collection in December. What was left of the original collection consisted largely of 27 double-sized shoe boxes of negatives and photos. The Digital Archive Group LLC of Lake Barrington, Illinois, led by Jeffrey Kelch, paid $46,500 for the assets.

Final Order: Sept. 4, 2015

Christopher Cathey of North Little Rock lands a $1.2 million default judgment against Rogers and his Sports Cards Plus after Rogers fails to show at a damages hearing. The judgment for unpaid investments and loans includes triple punitive damages of $736,993 in connection with Rogers inducing Cathey to invest in the phantom purchase of The Oklahoman newspaper photo archives.

Footnote: In a separate case that was dismissed on Aug. 10, 2016, Cathey reached an out-of-court settlement with First Arkansas Bank & Trust of Jacksonville. The bank sued Cathey to collect on personal guarantees totaling more than $2.1 million on loans to Sports Cards Plus.

Final Order: March 28, 2016

The case brought against Rogers and his JRS Cards Inc. by John Conner Jr. of Newport and his Holden-Conner Farms Inc. and Newport Archives Inc. is dismissed by the court after sitting inactive for more than 12 months.

On Jan. 23, 2015, Conner obtained a nearly $9.6 million consent judgment against third defendant Sports Cards Plus and sought $10 million in punitive damages against Rogers for his “willful and intentional fraud and to deter others from engaging in similar misconduct.”

Filed on Jan. 14, 2015, the lawsuit outlines four deals involving alleged fraud by Rogers: a June 2013 loan of $1.8 million partially used to buy the “Greenwood Collection,” which didn’t exist; an October 2013 loan of $1.6 million used to buy the Marvin Newman photo collection, which didn’t cost that much; a June 2013 loan of $1.45 million as an advance against the pending sale of a 1924 Babe Ruth home run bat supported by bogus paperwork, a sale that didn’t happen; and an October 2012 loan of $700,000 to buy the Chicago Tribune photo archives, which didn’t happen.

San Francisco County Superior Court

Final Order: June 6, 2016

Mark Roberts of San Francisco and his nonprofit 33 Collections LLC lands a $1.7 million default judgment against Rogers, his Sports Cards Plus and related ventures when Rogers fails to appear at trial.

Roberts accused Rogers of knowingly selling him scores of counterfeit vintage baseball photos during 2006-10. The counterfeit claim is confirmed by FBI examination, according to his complaint.

Filed Feb. 20, 2014, the case is the first lawsuit against Rogers after federal agents search and seize items from his business and home in North Little Rock. However, earlier trial dates fall by the wayside as Rogers drags out the proceedings amid would-be settlements that come to naught.

Footnote: The son of George Roberts, billionaire financier and co-founder of private equity firm KKR & Co., Roberts operates the National Pastime Museum, a website for displaying his collection of baseball memorabilia. Roberts sold $7.1 million worth of baseball artifacts from the collection during an Oct. 19-20 auction by Christie’s at New York’s Rockefeller Center.

(See also: John Rogers’ Creditors Line Up For $1.5 Million)