Little Rock woman who helped create phony sports memorabilia gets probation

FILE — U.S. District Court in Little Rock is shown in this file photo.
FILE — U.S. District Court in Little Rock is shown in this file photo.

A former girlfriend of John Rogers, a North Little Rock businessman who made millions by misrepresenting fake sports memorabilia as authentic collectibles, was given a probationary sentence Wednesday for helping create some of the phony items.

Amber Michelle Davis, 44, of Little Rock was described by her attorney as one of many victims of a "master manipulator" who induced her to alter ordinary items so they appeared aged and valuable, so he could sell them to support his lavish lifestyle that included a five-story lakefront estate.

Rogers, 46, is serving a 12-year prison sentence for admittedly using a doctored Heisman Trophy as collateral for a $100,000 loan, as part of a scheme to use counterfeit items to secure more than $4 million in loans from several Arkansas financial institutions.

Davis pleaded guilty in September to a wire fraud charge, admitting that she helped create 25-35 fake sports memorabilia items between May 2016 and September 2017. The fake items included two Super Bowl 1 footballs, three Boston Celtics basketballs, at least two Notre Dame footballs, at least three baseballs associated with famous athletes and several items related to the University of Arkansas.

Davis faced 12-18 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but Chief U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. granted a request from defense attorney Nicole Lybrand of the federal public defender's office to sentence her below the range based on her particular circumstances. He agreed to a sentence of three years on probation in lieu of prison.

Lybrand argued that Davis merited a sentence without prison time based on her minimal role in Rogers' scheme and her remorse, which Marshall said appeared genuine in a statement Davis made to the court.

He said it was clear "that your life, until you got involved with Mr. Rogers, was law-abiding."

Marshall waived a fine for Davis, saying she couldn't afford to pay it, and that it was more important for her to make restitution to five people who were defrauded of $60,700 altogether as a result of her actions.

The full amount of restitution is to be paid, jointly and severally, by Davis and John Alexander McLean, 59, who is scheduled for sentencing later this month. He pleaded guilty in October to a wire fraud charge, admitting that he also helped Rogers carry out his scheme by helping fabricate stories to tell prospective buyers about the items for sale.

Marshall also sentenced Davis to 150 hours of community service work and imposed conditions, including drug treatment and mental health counseling.

The government was represented at sentencing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron McCree.

Metro on 03/05/2020

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