A couple of brothers in Michigan and some other guy in Florida said they have signed memorabilia from Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and others, but it turns out they probably didn’t.
Now, merely saying this stuff is no crime. But selling it as authentic? Yeah, that’s a problem.
So those three aforementioned dealers of sports collectibles and art are in some fairly deep hot water, after being involved in an alleged fraud scheme of about 15 years. And yes, part of their trickery included forged signatures supposedly belonging to Ruth, Gehrig and Cy Young.
“Charged in the 34-page indictment were brothers Donald Henkel, 61, of Cedar, Michigan, and Mark Henkel, 66, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, as well as Raymond Paparella, 59, of Boca Raton, Florida,” reported Jason Meisner of the Chicago Tribune.
” … The wire fraud charges alleged Donald Henkel purchased items such as paintings, baseballs, baseball bats, celebrity photographs and books, record albums, programs and even ‘vintage pens’ for use in the scheme.”
All three were arraigned in federal court on Thursday, and three pleaded not guilty.
The Henkel bros allegedly teamed with Paparella to pass off the phony items as legitimate. And art galleries and collectors allegedly fell for all of it.
Of course, all three are denying any wrongdoing — though it would probably be difficult to find out from Ruth, Gehrig or Young if they actually signed any of this stuff.
“Many of the items eventually netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit sales, which was split among the co-conspirators, the indictment alleged,” Meisner reported. “Upon conviction, the defendants will have to hand over any property tied to money made during the scheme. Additional property will be taken if any assets can’t be found, have been given to a third party, are being held outside of the jurisdiction, have diminished in value, or can’t be easily divided.”