If you read only one government document this year (and here's hoping you only read one), this is the one for you. It is a copy of the FBI and Postal Inspector interview summary with Brad Wells from 2009 at the National Sports Collectors Convention. This document was obtained from a publicly available filing by Mr. Wells in his court case.
Last week, Wells pled guilty to mail fraud charges for his role with fraudulent game used memorabilia. This interview, from prior to his arrest, goes into great detail about the alleged fraud.
Some of the highlights (or lowlights) from the interview summary are that Wells allegedly confirmed that, through his company Authentic Sports Investments (ASI), he sold game-used jerseys to Donruss, Upper Deck and Topps. According to the interview summary, he allegedly sold the most to Donruss, and the least to Topps. It is important to note that this statement by Wells only covers his total sales to these companies, not necessarily sales of fraudulent game-used materials.
In the interview, Wells went into some of the details about his "dirtying up" of game used jerseys and gloves. Specifically, he said "on occasion, he did put jerseys he received in the dryer to take fold marks out of them" and taking bats "out to a local baseball field and playing home run derby to make the bats look game used."
One of the most disturbing elements in the report is quoted below in its entirety:
"WELLS was asked if the card companies knew that what he was selling to them was not game used. WELLS said that the card companies were too smart to put their beliefs in writing but they knew a lot of what they were buying from resellers like WELLS was not game used. WELLS recalled a conversation he had with UPPER DECK buyer MIKE O'GRADY at the Anaheim, California National Sports Collectors Convention approximately three years ago. During the conversation, O'GRADY told WELLS that UPPER DECK needed eight DEREK JETER jerseys and they were willing to pay between $1,000 and $1,200 each. WELLS told O'GRADY that he was paying between $3,500 and $5,000 for JETER jerseys from STEINER SPORTS and STEINER SPORTS obtained their JETER jerseys directly from the New York Yankees. WELLS told O'GRADY that by only paying $1,200 for JETER jerseys, UPPER DECK was inviting fraud. O'GRADY said that UPPER DECK knew what they were getting, but they needed the JETER jerseys at the minimum price."
Not a lot in this interview that will make card collectors feel good about their game-used cards, but definitely important to read.
Although this information is now just coming to light, this document was actually sitting in the case file since June, 2012. It's only because of Wells' plea that I just happened to check the docket to see what, if any, other relevant documents there might be.
I guess you can say there was at least one.
Before anyone jumps to any conclusions, remember this is a summary of an FBI interview, and is not evidence of guilt against any person or company.
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