CHICAGO — Federal prosecutors in Chicago have filed fraud charges against an Arkansas sports memorabilia collector, accusing him of defrauding investors by offering a phony Heisman Trophy as collateral for a $100,000 loan.
John Rogers of North Little Rock was charged with one count of wire fraud. According to court papers filed Friday, Rogers took a ceremonial Heisman Trophy that was awarded in 1960 to the emcee of the awards banquet and affixed a new nameplate, making it appear as if it had been given to the top college football player of the year.
Rogers is set for arraignment next week in Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune reported (http://trib.in/2colwLI ) that Rogers’ trophy purported to be from Oklahoma running back Billy Sims, who won in 1978 and is one of the few Heisman winners to sell his trophy. According to prosecutors, Rogers also created a fake letter from the Heisman winner confirming the authenticity of the trophy. While in suburban Chicago, Rogers was accused of sending an email in 2011 verifying the trophy’s provenance, which led to the federal wire fraud charge.
The Heisman, which is the highest honor in college football, is given ceremonially “on rare occasions” to people who don’t play college football, as it was in 1960, court papers said.
Rogers is the former owner of Sports Card Plus and Rogers Photo Archive, which bought photo archives from newspapers and other collectors across the country. He apologized for his actions Monday in a Facebook post.
“The last thing I want is for anyone to speak or feel any ill will towards our federal government, FBI or law enforcement out of love for me,” Rogers said. “The men and women who have handled my case have been nothing but professional and honorable and I am thankful for them because they saved my life from a downward spiral of cocaine addiction. Had they not stepped in, I would be dead now. I made hugely regretful, shameful mistakes, clouded in the daily haze of drug addiction, that I am ready to acknowledge and accept.”
Rogers confirmed to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper that he wrote the Facebook post and he declined further comment.