Updated: March 26, 2014 10:04AM
A Palos Park man awaiting sentencing for fraud, his business partner and a sports memorabilia appraiser committed fraud in selling four baseballs they said were signed by members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, according to a lawsuit.
In the suit, filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, Howard Rosing alleges that in 1998, 1999 and 2001 William Mastro and Douglas Allen of Legendary Auctions (formerly known as Mastro Fine Sports) in Lansing deliberately misrepresented the value of baseballs autographed by Hall of Famers Henry Chadwick, Mickey Welch, Jack Chesbro and Frank Chance.
Rosing, a retired physician from Georgia, bought the balls for a total of $130,369, and Mastro and Allen supplied Rosing with a letter of authenticity for each from Texas-based appraiser Mark Gutierrez, the suit says.
It says that Rosing has since learned that all four baseballs “are in fact counterfeit,” and the balls purported to be signed by Chadwick, Welch and Chesbro — each appraised by Gutierrez — were outright forgeries. Gutierrez did not appraise the Chance ball.
The signature on the Chance ball was authentic but had been enhanced with ink added sometime after the original signature, according to the lawsuit.
Mastro, Allen and Gutierrez could not be reached for comment Monday.
Mastro, Allen and two other men were indicted for fraud by a federal grand jury in July 2012. Last October, Mastro pleaded guilty, admitting he trimmed the sides of a rare Honus Wagner baseball card to increase its value and failed to disclose that an 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings trophy ball he sold for $62,000 was shown in lab tests to have been made after World War II.
Mastro agreed to cooperate with the government in its prosecution of Allen and the other men. He faces prison time and a fine up to $250,000.
Sun-Times Media Wire