A Michigan man has been sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison for selling counterfeit sports cards after investigators found hundreds of thousands of fake cards at his home.
According to MLive.com, Bryan Alan Kennert, 57, of North Shores, Mich. pleaded guilty to eight counts of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Lansing. According to investigators, Kennert made more than $100,000 a year selling counterfeit cards, the website reported.
According to the site, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Fauson wrote in court documents that Kennert had been selling fake sports cards and packs of cards since at least 1992.
“Kennert exploited unsuspecting victims for 30 years,” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said in a statement.
According to investigators, Kennert sold $43,355 of fake cards at an antiques mall in Muskegon, Mich. in 2019. The buyers discovered the cards were fake after submitting them to the Baseball Card Exchange to have them authenticated. The packs had been opened, with valuable cards removed, and then resealed to look like they were new.
According to court documents, Steve Hart of The Baseball Card Exchange examined the baseball, basketball and football cards and packs, which dated back to 1933, and determined they would have been worth about $200,000 if authentic. He told investigators some of the packs had been glued back together and that a Michael Jordan rookie card was too big for a standard protective case.
“Upon inspection of the items, Hart determined the packs had been, ‘tampered with and resealed,’” Homeland Security Special Agent Scott Bauer wrote in a search-warrant affidavit.
Bauer said that Hart told the victims that the cards were “100 percent complete garbage” and “nearly worthless.”
Bauer conducted a search of Kennert’s home on July 9, 2021 and found fake cards that would have been worth $7.3 million if authentic, prosecutors said.
The incident was not the first time Kennert had been investigated for selling fake cards. According to the website, the FBI investigated Kennert in 2014 for trying to auction off a resealed box of 1969 Topps baseball cards. The cards were discovered to be fake before they were sold, so Kennert was not charged, Bauer wrote in court documents.
According to Bauer, Kennert told the FBI he acquired counterfeit sports cards, coins and U.S. currency while working in China in 2007 and 2008. Kennert pleaded guilty in 1992 to importing counterfeit baseball cards from Hong Kong and selling them as authentic, Bauer said. He was also convicted of mail fraud in 1987.
According to court documents, Kennert’s attorney told investigators that Kennert had collected authentic sports memorabilia all his life and that his house was filled with “memories and material that has been accumulating for decades by five different members of his family during their lifetimes.”
For more details on the case, see the full MLive.com story here.