Bloomberg News

Honus Wagner Baseball-Card Auctioneer Indicted by Grand Jury

July 25, 2012

William Mastro, a sports memorabilia auctioneer, was indicted by a U.S. grand jury for fraud, including the hiding of alterations to a rare Honus Wagner baseball card from bidders.

Acting Chicago U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro announced charges today against the Mastro Auctions principal and three other men. The T-206 series Wagner card, which portrays the Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1936, is “the world’s most expensive baseball trading card,” he said.

“Mastro allegedly failed to disclose that he had altered the Wagner T-206 card by cutting the sides in a manner that, if disclosed, would have significantly reduced the value of the card,” Shapiro said.

Mastro and two other defendants deceived prospective bidders about the fairness and competitiveness of the company’s auctions, according to the indictment unsealed today in federal court in Chicago. Other items Mastro and former Chief Operating Officer Doug Allen are accused of auctioning while knowing their condition was misrepresented include Elvis Presley’s hair and “a purported 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings trophy baseball,” according to Shapiro.

Mastro, 59, of Palos Park, Illinois, is charged with a single count of mail fraud, according to prosecutors. He owned Mastro Auctions until 2004 and was its chairman and chief executive officer from 1996 to February 2009.

Fraud Counts

Allen, 49, of Crete, Illinois, faces 14 counts of mail and wire fraud. Mark Theotikos, 51, of Addison, Illinois, former vice president of auction operations, is charged with six counts of wire and mail fraud.

William Boehm, 63, of Baldwin, Missouri, the company’s former director of information technology, is charged with a single count of making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Mastro’s attorney, Michael D. Monico of Chicago, didn’t immediately reply to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the indictment.

“We are in the process of reviewing the allegations,” Allen’s attorney, Michael J. Petro of Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Theotikos’s lawyer, Allan A. Ackerman of Chicago, said his client will enter a plea of not guilty when arraigned. “We look forward to his vindication,” the attorney said by phone.

No arraignment date has been set for Mastro, Allen or Theotikos, Shapiro said. Boehm made an initial appearance today in federal court in St. Louis.

The case is U.S. v. Mastro, 12-cr-567, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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