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Update: Attorneys Seek 13-Year Sentence for John Rogers

3 min read

The U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago will ask a judge on Wednesday to sentence serial fraudster John Rogers of North Little Rock to 13 years and four months in federal prison and order him to pay $23.6 million in restitution.

“This sentence is substantial but takes into account the Ponzi scheme the defendant ran for years, the victims he defrauded, and the serious financial damage he inflicted on those victims,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Owens in a filing on Tuesday. “The defendant’s conduct in this case is serious, and his inability to accept responsibility for his actions and continue to commit more crimes while on bond speak volumes as to his disrespect for his victims and the rule of law.”

Owens said Rogers wasn’t eligible for a reduction in his sentence that he would have received for pleading guilty to his crimes because while he was out on bond, “he worked with two other individuals to commit more of the same illegal conduct that he had done in the past — defrauding sports memorabilia customers.”

Rogers is expected to take the stand at his sentencing hearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Blake Hendrix, criminal defense lawyer for Rogers, said in court filings that his client would admit to crimes he denied committing when confronted by federal investigators this year and crimes committed after reaching a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney.

“A great deal of the misconduct is true; some is not, but Rogers will explain his post-plea conduct to the court in allocution at sentencing,” Hendrix said in a recently filed supplemental sentencing memorandum.

Rogers, the fallen sports memorabilia and photo archive dealer, tested positive for cocaine during a random drug test in October, according to the filing.

Hendrix said his 44-year-old client has battled drug addiction for “a good part of his adult life,” including two relapses after treatment. The Little Rock attorney cited a laundry list of items that may have contributed to bad choices by Rogers.

The list includes cocaine, side effects from Adderall and a possible head injury from high school and/or college football. Hendrix also alluded to a 2002 diagnosis that Rogers has hypomania, the manic side of bipolar disorder.

Medical documentation supporting that diagnosis or the head injury has not entered public court records so far.

The filing also offers accounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars in good deeds that Rogers accomplished while helping others during his life that might offset some of the millions of dollars in fraud damage and harm caused to others by his criminal behavior.

“Rogers is a complicated man,” Hendrix said in the memorandum. “He slipped back into criminal conduct. He’s faced the demons of drug addiction and got help, but he’s relapsed at least twice. He lied when he was confronted with the new allegations, but, once again sober, he’s come to his senses and will accept responsibility for what he did.

“Is it too little, too late, or is it better late than never? Again, it’s complicated.”

Hendrix requested that Rogers be released into the custody of Ron Rogers, his father, to spend some time with his family before he is sent to prison.

The request, made on behalf of the elder Rogers, mentioned the use of electronic monitoring or home detention or both if so ordered by the court.

(Mark Friedman contributed to this report.)

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