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Fake jerseys in Jersey? feds drop charges against sports dealer

Americans love sports. Team sports, in particular, are widely popular. Merchandise and memorabilia featuring a favorite football, basketball or baseball team can generate considerable interest and involve considerable amounts of money.

As with any other type of merchandise exchange, however, there can be concerns about the authenticity of the goods. In one recent case, fraud charges were made and then dropped against a memorabilia dealer in New Jersey.

The New Jersey dealer had been indicted for fraud by a federal grand jury. But the charges were dropped this month after defense attorneys argued that several witnesses had lied. Three of those witnesses, the attorneys contended, were employees of the New York Giants football team.

The memorabilia dealer against whom charges were dropped was one of six who had been accused of fraud in 2011. Federal prosecutors claimed these dealers had sold fraudulent jerseys that were supposedly game-used but really weren't. There were hundreds of jerseys allegedly involved. The jerseys were sold to trading card companies and various other buyers.

The charges were based on an extensive, multi-year investigation spearheaded by the FBI's Chicago office. Five of the six dealers pleaded guilty, though they have not been sentenced.

But the New Jersey dealer chose to fight the fraud charges. His attorneys asserted that an equipment manager for the Giants lied to the FBI about never having sold game-used jerseys or other items to the New Jersey dealer. The defense attorneys argued that two other Giants employees lied as well.

In short, a case like this does not only reflect the popularity of sports. It also shows that even a charge that is based on an extensive investigation may not be soundly based in fact.

Source: "Justice Department drops fraud charges against a NJ sports memorabilia dealer," New York Daily News, Michael O'Keefe, 5-15-13

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