Chicago Youth Baseball Leagues Benefit from FBI Fraud Case

At a July 10, 2018 event organized by the FBI and the Chicago White Sox, hundreds of baseballs and bats seized during a sports memorabilia fraud case were donated to inner-city youth baseball leagues.

Video Transcript

Slide: More than 100 Louisville Slugger bats and dozens of baseballs seized in a sports memorabilia fraud investigation were recently donated by the FBI’s Chicago Division to inner-city youth baseball leagues.

Brian Brusokas, FBI Special Agent, Chicago Division: What we’ve got here is about 125 bats that we took during the John Rogers case. John was a noted forger; he forged everything from vintage autographs—Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb—all the way up through the ‘60s stars—Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron—all the way up to the current stuff he was doing, Albert Pujols as well.

Slide: John Rogers is serving a 12-year prison sentence and has been ordered to pay $24 million in restitution to his victims. The judge in the case also allowed hundreds of forged bats and balls to be donated to worthy causes.

Jeffrey Sallet, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Division: Tonight we came out here, a group of FBI Chicago employees, to give back to the community. And our folks came up with an organic idea, and that organic idea was: If we took one of these bats and we put in the hands of one of the kids in Chicago, could that bat make a difference for that kid?

Brusokas: At the start of this case, I had advised my prosecutor that if we ever come upon large amounts of seized material that we can make good on—such as these bats by removing the signatures—I said that maybe at the end of the case we get a restitution of forfeiture order so that we can donate the bats to some good cause.

Slide: Among the groups receiving equipment were the Chicago White Sox Amateur City Elite (ACE) program and Major League Baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative.

Kenny Fullman, Program Manager, Chicago White Sox ACE Program: Back in the summer of 2006, we were looking for ways to give our inner-city urban kids, minority kids, more exposure in the game of baseball, and so we developed the program along with the Chicago White Sox, White Sox Charities, that we would have elite travel baseball funded by the Chicago White Sox for urban inner-city minority kids.

One of the things we get to do is we get to bring a group of kids together from all over the city, and they get to gel together, get to know each other, get to know a little bit about each other, especially with the gang problems we’re having in the Chicagoland area.

Sallet: People that are working on this program every single day, they’re the heroes. And they’re the heroes because they’re making sure they’re giving these kids an opportunity. The kids in these neighborhoods are incredible kids. If they’re given an opportunity and they’re given good guidance, they will succeed.

Fullman: We’re very thankful for the donation that they gave us and thankful for all the agents who came out today to spend time with our kids, play catch with them, and talk with our kids, so we’re very thankful for that. Any time we can get someone to come out and be positive around our kids and talk about their careers, we’re very thankful for that.

Brandon, ACE Program Participant: This, you know, this generous donation of these bats is really just going to help keep the ACE legacy, you know, keep it going, you know. Keeping us on the field, you know, and really just keeping an ongoing legacy of having us become good men, and good baseball players, you know, getting us to college, really.

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