Three of the six men charged last month for selling fake sports memorabilia have entered guilty pleas for mail fraud.
Bernard Gernay, Bradley Horne and Jarrod Oldridge each admitted to selling altered jerseys and equipment made to look as though they were game-used. Their methods included switching player names and numbers around, adding patches, changing the shape and adding other marks to make jerseys look as though they were authentic.
Each faces a prison term of up to 20 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. The fine could also be altered to reflect the value of the fake memorabilia the men sold. Sentencing for the trio begins May 4.
When federal officials announced the original charges, they stated that at least one trading card company bought jerseys from the defendants to be included on game-used memorabilia cards. None of the manufacturers have stepped forward publicly at this point to acknowledge they fell victim to the fraudulent dealers. When the story first broke, Brian Gray, owner of Leaf, left a comment on the Cardboard Connection's Facebook page saying that he had never bought from any of the men charged.
Gernay is from New Jersey and owns Pro Sports Investments. Horne is the owner of Authentic Sports Memorabilia, based out of South Carolina. Oldridge hails from Las Vegas and owns J.O. Sports Co.
The J.O. Sports website continues to operate. They state that they have partnerships with 14 NFL teams. They're also offering memorabilia from other major sports and the NCAA.
This case has major implications on the hobby. While the implications of fake jerseys and fraud are bad, there is the potential for some good to come of it. Manufacturers could be forced to be more accountable. Not only could this restore shaken collector confidence, but also make memorabilia cards more valuable on the secondary market.
Stay tuned as more information on this case becomes available.