Four men are facing federal charges amid allegations they rigged auctions that inflated prices or misrepresented the authenticity of items ranging from a rare baseball card to alock of hair they claimed was from Elvis.
The transactions were conducted through the former Mastro Auctions during most of the past decade, federal prosecutors said. The auction house was based out of Oak Brook, Burr Ridge and Willowbrook at various times throughout its history.
William Mastro, 59, of Palos Park, is charged with mail fraud. Prosecutors said Mastro, who owned the company from 1996 to 2009, failed to disclose that he had altered a "T-206 Honus Wagner" baseball card -- considered one of the rarest cards in all of collecting -- in a way "that would have significantly reduced the value of the card" had the buyer been alerted to the alteration.
Doug Allen, 49, of Crete, is charged with wire and mail fraud. Allen was the company's president. Prosecutors accused Allen of selling a lock of Elvis Presley's hair despite knowing DNA testing had questioned the authenticity of the locks. He is also accused of selling a baseball advertised as being used in an 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings game even though he knew testing showed paint used on the ball was not available until after World War II. In both cases, Allen had refunded original purchasers' funds and resold the items with the knowledge the authenticity was questionable, prosecutors said.
Mark Theotikos, 51, of Addison, is charged with wire and mail fraud also. He served as the company's vice president.
Both Theotikos and Allen are currently executives at Legendary Auctions in south suburban Lansing, prosecutors said.
William Boehm, 63, of Ballwin, Mo., was the company's information technology director. He is charged with making false statements to the FBI in relation to the case. Prosecutors said Boehm "lied to FBI agents" about an online bidding account used to place fictitious bids.
Prosecutors said that in addition to selling items of questionable origins, Mastro, Allen and Theotikos "engaged in ... shill-bidding to fraudulently inflate prices."
The fraud charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 year behind bars and a maximum $250,000 fine. The charge against Boehm carries a five-year maximum prison sentence and a $250,000 maximum fine.