An Ohio man has been charged with the theft of more than $87,000 of sports cards from a dealer at the National Sports Collectors Convention last month in Atlantic City.
Russell Porter of Willoughby, Ohio has been charged with second-degree theft by unlawful taking and second-degree theft by deception, according to the Atlantic City Prosecutors office. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison.
According to the Atlantic City Police Department, the theft occurred on July 30 at the Atlantic City Convention Center when the alleged suspect walked away with $87,800 worth of sports cards from the booth of Gizmo’s Sportscards.
Rick Giddings, the owner of the Davis Junction, Ill. company, reported the theft on the final day of The National.
According to Giddings, who is on the board of directors of The National, Porter approached his booth (#1413) with a bag he said contained $100,000 in cash packaged in two 400-count card boxes. Porter asked Giddings and his staff to hold the bag for him while he looked through their inventory of cards, Giddings said.
According to Giddings, Porter, who had bought cards from him before, picked out 29 cards valued at $87,800. The cards included: a 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle card valued at $20,000; a 1955 Roberto Clemente rookie card valued at $16,000; a 1955 Sandy Koufax rookie card valued at $10,000; and several other Mantle and Clemente cards.
“He picked up 29 cards and handed them to me. I looked at them and said, ‘Yeah, maybe I can work some kind of deal,’” Giddings told Sports Collectors Digest. “We hadn’t cut a deal yet, so he said, ‘Do you mind if I give them to my son,’ who was about three booths away.”
Giddings told police that Porter then walked to a nearby booth and gave the cards to his son.
When the son did not return with the cards after about an hour, Giddings said Porter left the booth to look for him. He texted Giddings later saying he would contact him the next morning.
At that point, Giddings said he checked the bag that Porter left behind and found two boxes marked “$50,000.” The two boxes, however, contained only $500 each in $1 bills, he said.
When Porter did not show up the following morning, Giddings contacted the Atlantic City Police Department, which investigated the incident and referred the case to the Atlantic County Prosecutor.
According to the police report, a copy of which was obtained by SCD, officers contacted Porter on Aug. 1 and requested he return to the Atlantic City to answer questions and provide a statement. According to the report, Porter declined the request. He will now be required to return to Atlantic City to face formal charges.
Giddings has not yet recovered the cards and is considering a civil suit against Porter. He is pleased that chargers were filed in the case.
“I want to see him charged and prosecuted so that he doesn’t do this to other dealers,” he said.