LITTLE ROCK (CN) - An Arkansas sports memorabilia dealer owes two collectors $15 million, $1.45 million of it for an advance on the sale of a supposed "1924 Babe Ruth home run bat," the collectors claim in court.
The Jan. 14 lawsuits in Pulaski County Court are the fourth and fifth claims against North Little Rock businessman John M. Rogers and his businesses Sports Cards Plus dba Rogers Photo Archives, and JRS Cards.
John L. Conner Jr. and his businesses, Holden-Connor Farms and New Port Archives, claim Rogers owes nearly $9.6 million for five loans and an unpaid bill for digitalization services.
Conner claims he loaned Rogers $700,000 to buy the photo archives of the Chicago Tribune but that the 2012 purchase never happened and he remains unpaid.
He also claims he loaned Rogers and JRS Cards $1.45 million "as an advance against the impending proceeds from the sale of a certain 1924 Babe Ruth Home Run bat." It is uncertain from the 13-page complaint whether the bat was sold, or Rogers even had it, but Conner says the $1.45 promissory note is due and owing.
"(D)efendants continued to misrepresent that payment on the Babe Ruth bat was imminent, including providing information purporting to be instructions for a wire transfer that never materialized," Conner says in the complaint.
Conner claims that Rogers gave him a promissory note for each loan, including a $1.6 million loan for the purchase of the archives of sports photographer Marvin Newman, and a $1.8 million loan to purchase the Greenwood Collection and the Digital First Photographic Archive. He claims that all of them remain unpaid.
On the same day in the same court, William M. Hogan sued Rogers for $5.4 million, claiming he advanced the money as investment loans to bankroll the purchases of more sports collectibles. Hogan sued Rogers, Sports Cards Plus, and Rogers Photo Archive.
Hogan claims his loans included $150,000 for a 50 percent interest in Rogers' purchase of Billy Sims 1978 Heisman Trophy - but he says Rogers never bought the trophy or repaid the loan.
Hogan claims he also loaned $225,000 for an alleged "'pre-sold' sale of a Friedman collection of memorabilia to Topps in May 2011." He claims that Rogers gave him postdated checks for $325,000 for that, $279,861 of which cleared, but that the FBI raided Sports Card Plus on Jan. 28, 2014, at which point he learned that Rogers "never had an interest in a Freidman/Topps collection purchase and sale, and that the partial proceeds received from defendants' was from [a] Ponzi scheme type setup rather than periodic payments from Topps."
Hogan says he invested another $240,000 in a "'pre-sold' sale of a Stein collection of memorabilia to Upper Deck in May 2011," and though $247,569 of the checks Rogers repaid him for that one cleared, they too were part of the Ponzi scheme.
He claims Rogers owes him a total of $3,462,333 for his interest in seven other alleged sports memorabilia collections.
Hogan says he partially guaranteed a $14 million loan for Rogers to buy photo archive equipment, on which Rogers defaulted, and for which Hogan may end up owing a bank $2.8 million.
Rogers owes him hundreds of thousands of dollars more on other deals, Hogan says in his 19-page lawsuit.
Both lawsuits seek damages for fraud and breach of contract.
Hogan also seeks $39 million in punitive damages "to deter such future conduct."
Hogan is represented by Ed Daniel IV of Little Rock, Conner by Matthew K. Mullins of Newport.
Rogers faced similar complaints in Pulaski County Court throughout 2014.
In December, Fairfax Media Management claimed Rogers failed to return its photograph collection and complete digitization services.
Separately, California resident David Hoffman claimed he is owed $80,000 for a collection of photographs and negatives of President John F. Kennedy referred to as the Arthur Rickerby Estate and Collection and Arthur Rickerby negatives. Hoffman claimed Rogers bought the collection in 2012 for $325,000.
That lawsuit, filed in November 2014, is pending.
In July last year, Mary Brace, of Illinois, sued Rogers for failing to pay for a historical baseball photograph negative collection known as the George Burke and George Brace Negative Collection.
On Jan. 14 - the day Conner and Hogan filed their lawsuits - Rogers consented to a $765,000 judgment in Brace's case .Follow @@eidelagarza
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