Blog

Fake NY Giant Game used at center of Lawsuit

So much for game used if these allegations prove to be accurate.  Pictured is sitting in the HOF and is suppose to be an Eli Manning Game Used Helmet from his 2008 superbowl.  Claims that NYG equipment manager, Joe Skibba, was involved with others in doctoring game used equipment.   Steiner Auctions, who at this time, are not involved in the scheme are alledged however to have sold many pieces thru their auctions to unwitting buyers.

according to the NY Post page 6's  Kaja Whitehouse

; Two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning took part in the scheme so he could hang on to his personal items, according to the documents.

The memorabilia ruse is so common among Giants players and staffers, the documents claim, that team equipment manager Joe Skiba openly discussed Manning’s fake game gear on an official Giants e-mail account.

The lawsuit emerged as Manning’s big brother, Peyton, prepares to lead the Denver Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, the Giants’ home field.

A rep for the Giants on Thursday said, “This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously. We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation.”

The allegations are part of a civil-racketeering, breach-of-contract, malicious-prosecution and trade-libel suit filed Wednesday in Bergen County Superior Court by sports collector Eric Inselberg.

In one startling claim, the suit says Barry Barone, who has been the Giants’ dry cleaner since 1982, used his Rutherford, NJ, Park Cleaners store to beat up jerseys and other items at the behest of longtime locker-room manager Ed Wagner Jr.

In a 2001 incident, Wagner told Barone “to intentionally damage multiple jerseys to make them appear to have been game-worn when they had not been.”

Inselberg’s lawyer, Brian Brook of Clinton Brook & Peed, said his client walked in to find Barone “using a big pair of scissors to cut up a set of Giants’ 2000 season’s game-issued white jerseys,’’ in order to then “’repair’ those damages” to make the shirts look used.

Inselberg was indicted in 2011 for memorabilia fraud for selling bogus used sport jerseys from teams.

But federal prosecutors in Rockford, Ill., dropped all the charges in May 2013, telling the judge that “prosecution was no longer appropriate in light of some new facts that were pointed out to us by defense counsel.”

The case was jettisoned two days after Inselberg’s defense lawyers told the court that Giants staffers had lied to the grand jury that indicted him about their relationship with him, in a bid to cover up for the team’s own fake-memorabilia sales.

Wednesday’s lawsuit is Inselberg’s attempt at retribution against the Giants.

The new suit alleges that Wagner, along with Skiba and his brother, Ed, also an equipment manager, were told by team brass to lie to federal investigators and the grand jury about how much Giants sports gear they sold him over the years.

Among the many scathing claims that could tarnish Eli Manning’s squeaky-clean image is an alleged 2005 incident in which he allegedly asked Joe Skiba for an old, beat-up game helmet — and then took the headgear, signed it, and put it on the market, “falsely claiming that it was a helmet used during his 2004 rookie season.”

In 2008, the suit alleges, Joe Skiba took a different helmet and doctored it to appear as if Manning had worn it in that year’s Super Bowl. The fake headgear was ordered by a Giants vice president after he learned the real headgear had been sold — to Inselberg — and was later given to the Hall of Fame, the suit claims.

Two bogus helmets that Manning claimed to have worn in the 2012 Super Bowl, as well as jerseys and helmets from 2008, were also ordered to be doctored and then sold, according to the suit.

Included in the lawsuit is a 2008 e-mail exchange between Inselberg and Joe Skiba, in which Skiba appears to acknowledge he created fake game-worn gear at Manning’s request.

“Hey Joe, my buddy was offered an eli game used helmet and jersey. Are these the bs ones eli asked you to make up because he didnt want to give up the real stuff?” Inselberg writes in the exchange.

Skiba — replying from account “jskiba@giants.nfl.net” — writes, “BS ones, you are correct…”

Some of Manning’s alleged fakes were sold through famed memorabilia house Steiner Sports, with whom he had an exclusive deal.

Steiner, believing its items to be authentic, sold them “to unwitting customers and sent them via the mail,” the suit says.

Angry buyers started to complain after noticing that markings on their items didn’t match those that appeared in pictures of Manning’s game-day duds.

But Manning told Steiner they were legit, and Steiner resold returned helmets to other buyers, the suit claims.

Inselberg did not put a dollar amount on compensatory or punitive damages. But he lost “well into the eight figures,” according to lawyer Brook, who filed the suit with Red Bank, NJ, lawyer Michael Kasanoff.

Inselberg bought and sold legit game-worn memorabilia from several teams and had a lucrative business, the suit claims.

The Giants were his “largest supplier by far, via their equipment management staff [and] several players.”

Inselberg said he bought thousands of collectors items over the course of two decades directly from Giants staffers, including Wagner and the Skibas.

He also had separate business partnerships with the Skibas.

Inselberg says he knew the Giants and Manning were churning out fake, but believed he was getting legit products because of his close relationship with the team.

He was so close to the Giants leading up to his indictment that the team relied almost exclusively on Inselberg’s memorabilia to launch its Legacy Club, a historical showcase for the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

The lawsuit says that many of the game-worn items now showcased at the Legacy Club are items he got from Wagner and the Skibas.

When the club opened in September 2010, Giants CEO John Mara sent Inselberg a letter thanking him for lending his “extensive collection” to the team, and he was named “Giants Memorabilia Curator,” the suit says.

Inselberg claimed to have learned that the staffers, Manning and Giants management were churning out fake memorabilia after seeing it first hand, and discussing it with the Skibas.

According to the lawsuit, Joe Skiba told Inselberg that he “created fraudulent memorabilia at the direction of the Giants’ management and players,” including Manning.

For years, the Giants operated a racket in which they “repeatedly engaged in the distribution of fraudulent Giants memorabilia,” Inselberg claims.

They then “coerced and intimidated” Wagner and the Skibas “into lying to the FBI about it,” the suit alleges.

“When the Government came knocking on the Giants’ door, the response was a coverup that threw Inselberg under the bus to protect themselves and the team,” according to court papers.

The suit names Manning, the Giants, Inc., CEO John Mara, team lawyer William Heller, CFO Christine Procops, Wagner, the Skiba brothers and dry cleaner Barone as defendants.

http://nypost.com/2014/01/30/eli-and-giants-created-fake-memorabilia-suit/

Email me when people comment –

You need to be a member of Autograph Planet to add comments!

Join Autograph Planet

Comments

  • Eli Manning has put it behind him but will collectors.  The often let's settle w/o any admission to wrongdoing.  

    5/15/2018 Eli Manning will no longer have a potentially serious legal issue hanging over his head.

    Manning has settled the memorabilia fraud lawsuit that had been scheduled to begin today, a league source tells PFT.

    At the last minute the trial did not start today because of a death in the family of one of the attorneys, but now there will be no trial, as Manning and the plaintiffs have agreed to a settlement.

    Manning was accused of fraudulently passing off memorabilia as game-worn even though he hadn’t worn it in a game. At the center of the dispute were messages from Manning to a team equipment manager asking for helmets “that can pass as game used.”

    The plaintiffs said they were duped by Manning into paying for “game-used” items that weren’t actually used in games. Now that issue will not go before a jury, and Manning has put it behind him.

    Eli Manning - New York Giants - 2018 Player Profile - Rotoworld.com
    Eli Manning 2018 player profile, game log, season stats, career stats, recent news If you play fantasy sports, get breaking news and immerse yourself…
  • Here we are four years later;  and here is why "trust" doesn't cut it in the memorabilia world.  In the business world it's called "trust BUt verify".      Have to love the Giant's attorney - it doesn't constitute fraud.  If it makes it to trial I suspect it's settlement time and that might keep manning's dep "sealed"

     

    Inselberg first raised issue with the authenticity of game-used helmets he purchased in an email exchange with Skiba in 2008 in which he asked the equipment manager, “Are these the bs ones eli asked you to make up because he didn’t want to give up the real stuff?”

    Skiba responded, “BS ones, you are correct.”

    Giants’ attorneys have said this does not prove fraud. Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports said in his deposition he “emphatically” trusts Manning would give him the appropriate memorabilia while much of Manning’s testimony was redacted to the public.

    The memorabilia fraud lawsuit against Eli Manning and the Giants began to pick up steam in court filings this week.   

    John Healy

    Collectors suing Manning and the Giants produced transcripts of their depositions along with the testimony of their expert witness and maintained their argument that Manning, the Giants, their equipment director and Steiner Sports participated in memorabilia fraud. 

    Meanwhile, lawyers for the Giants continued to insist the plaintiffs have yet to prove they have done anything wrong.

    The plaintiffs’ expert witness, John Robinson of Resolution-Photo Matching, said that four out of five helmets did not match what was sold as game-used Eli Manning memorabilia and that Manning likely never wore the equipment in a game.
    Eric Inselberg, one of the plaintiffs, says he has collected thousands of pieces of memorabilia from Giants equipment managers but he and his attorneys pointed to equipment manager Joe Skiba’s deposition as evidence of providing fake memorabilia and negligence.

    Skiba, who is not represented by the Giants attorneys, says he provided a game-issued Eli Manning Super Bowl helmet upon request from Giants media relations director Pat Hanlon “for an exhibit.”

    The helmet wound up in the Hall of Fame, but in recent months a featured description of the helmet was deleted off the Hall of Fame’s website.

    The plaintiffs’ attorneys also pointed to Giants owner John Mara’s deposition to argue their case.

    Mara stated that he was unaware of any memorabilia controversy until the lawsuit was filed, but his in-house counsel Bill Heller received a letter on the subject in 2011.
    Attorneys representing Mara, the Giants and Heller rebutted in a filing on Tuesday that these details are irrelevant because there is “no evidence supporting the proposition that engaging in memorabilia fraud is the kind of task that any Giants employee was ever employed or otherwise authorized to perform.”

    They argued the helmet that went to the Hall of Fame was never sold and that any memorabilia sold would not result in profit because proceeds go to the team’s charity.
    The Giants’ expert witness also said that photo-matching to assess a helmet’s authenticity is faulty.

    Inselberg first raised issue with the authenticity of game-used helmets he purchased in an email exchange with Skiba in 2008 in which he asked the equipment manager, “Are these the bs ones eli asked you to make up because he didn’t want to give up the real stuff?”  Skiba responded, “BS ones, you are correct.”

    Giants’ attorneys have said this does not prove fraud. Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports said in his deposition he “emphatically” trusts Manning would give him the appropriate memorabilia while much of Manning’s testimony was redacted to the public.

    The collectors are hoping they have enough evidence to proceed to trial, scheduled in less than six weeks, while the Giants hope to get a New Jersey Superior Court judge to issue a summary judgment and avoid trial.

    New York News, Traffic, Sports, Weather, Photos, Entertainment, and Gossip - Homepage - NY Daily Ne…
    Find breaking US news,local New York news coverage, sports, entertainment news, celebrity gossip, autos, videos and photos at nydailynews.com.
  • Been awhile but it appears based on Eli Manning's emails to the equipment manager that he was complicit in providing fake game used items to Steiner Sports.  Even though many emails were deleted it seems not all of them;  “2 helmets that can pass as game used. That is it. Eli,” Manning wrote to equipment manager Joe Skiba from a BlackBerry on April 27, 2010, according to the documents.  Emails Implicate Manning involvement

    ‘Proof’ Eli Manning was in on Giants memorabilia scheme
    A smoking gun email from Eli Manning proves he quarterbacked a conspiracy to defraud collectors by pawning off phony game-worn gear as the real deal,…
  • Lets add the 2nd amended complaint;  Giants gave Strahan a Fake Super Bowl XLII jersey

    The court papers filed by attorney Brian C. Brook, who represents three men who claim Eli Manning and the Giants sold fraudulent jerseys, helmets and other memorabilia to fans and trading card companies, claims clubhouse attendant Edward Skiba sold Strahan’s Super Bowl jersey to plaintiff Eric Inselberg shortly after the game. The club gave Strahan, elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, a bogus jersey.

    “The Giants went to great lengths to make the jersey they gave to Strahan falsely appear as if it was worn during the Super Bowl, even adding Gatorade stains to the fabric,” the papers say.

    A spokeswoman for Strahan said the “Fox NFL Sunday” analyst and “Live! With Kelly and Michael” host had not seen the court papers and declined further comment.

    The second amended complaint filed in Bergen County this week represents the latest legal offensive by Inselberg, a sports memorabilia dealer, inventor and entrepreneur, in a long legal battle against Manning and the Giants.

    Inselberg, once a die-hard Big Blue fan who says he provided more than $1 million worth of Giants memorabilia for the Legacy Club museum at MetLife Stadium and worked with Giants officials to design an interactive wireless stadium marketing service and a helmet that reduces the risk of concussions,first sued the Giants and their star quarterback in 2014.

    His original civil suit, which alleged civil racketeering, breach of contract, malicious prosecution and trade libel, said the Giants clubhouse staff created fake “game-used” gear to sell to fans and trading card companies. Manning participated in the scheme because he wanted to hold on personal memorabilia.

    A New Jersey judge dismissed some of the claims in January but allowed others to proceed.  Karen J. Kessler, a spokeswoman for the Giants, said the complaint filed this week is an attempt to circumvent the judge’s decision to dismiss part of the earlier case.

    Brook said the case is about two kinds of fraud: “There’s fraudulent memorabilia being sold to fans, and then fraud on the U.S. government to cover it up,” he said.

  • Giants' Manning Must Face Fraud Claims In Memorabilia Case 

     

    New Jersey judge on January 13 2016, sustained racketeering and fraud claims against NYG quarterback Eli Manning, while trimming the overall complaint, which accuses the team and others of railroading a sports memorabilia dealer to hide their distribution of bogus collectibles.  Plaintiff Eric Inselberg’s wide-ranging suit alleges that Giants equipment staff and even Manning knowingly peddled fake game-worn memorabilia, and that the team exposed Inselberg to mail fraud charges to cover up those activities. The complaint also included claims of unjust enrichment and idea misappropriation based on the team's alleged poaching of his wireless patent and marketing concepts.

    In a 63-page opinion addressing seven separate motions to dismiss the complaint, Judge James DeLuca found that several claims that the defendants harmed Inselberg and contributed to his indictment by allegedly lying to federal authorities must be dismissed because they are either pled without adequate evidence or are based on grand jury testimony that is protected by absolute immunity.

    Despite finding several allegations lacked sufficient pleading or evidence, the judge refused to dismiss claims against Manning, his company PWL Inc. and Giants equipment director Joseph Skiba that they participated in a racketeering scheme and that they violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by knowingly hawking helmets as game-worn that had actually never graced the gridiron.

    While Manning and Skiba argued that they could not be held liable to Inselberg and co-plaintiffs because they are not direct sellers of merchandise and that the products’ warranty frees them from counterfeiting claims, the judge said that alleged material misrepresentations about the items’ authenticity were enough to sustain the CFA claims and that a warranty does not provide an escape.

    “The court finds unpersuasive the argument that plaintiffs were obligated to pursue warranty remedies and seek a return of their money before bringing a claim under the CFA,” the opinion said. “Plaintiffs expected that they would be the owners of game-worn helmets. To permit defendants to simply refund monies rather than provide the unique memorabilia would deprive plaintiffs of the benefit of the bargain.”

    Additionally, the judge sustained a common law fraud claim against Manning and Skiba, as well as a negligent misrepresentation claim against Manning and Steiner Sports Memorabilia Inc., the company that allegedly authenticated the merchandise.

    Inselberg  filed the initial suit in January 2014 in Bergen County, New Jersey, but amended it in January 2015, adding Steiner as a defendant over the allegedly fraudulent sale of helmets to collectors. The 18-count complaint included Giants’ Senior Vice President of Communications Pat Hanlon as a defendant and the team’s general counsel, William J. Heller.

    Inselberg contends that Manning and PWL conspired with Giants equipment director Joseph Skiba to doctor helmets and jerseys to make it seem like the quarterback had worn them in games. Skiba created the fake game-worn helmets and jerseys for Manning so the quarterback could fulfill his contract for memorabilia with Steiner, according to the complaint.

    Though the team dodged several of Inselberg’s claims, Judge DeLuca found he had sufficiently alleged that the Giants were unjustly enriched by failing to pay him for facilitating a partnering agreement between the team and Chase Bank.

    And although the judge dismissed a claim that the team misappropriated and palmed off Inselberg’s wireless marketing concepts as its own, he left the door open for Inselberg to refile certain claims with enhanced factual allegations.

    Inselberg’s attorney, Brian C. Brook of Clinton Brook & Peed, declined to comment on the ruling beyond saying his side is reviewing it and reviewing options to amend its complaint.

    A team press contact and an attorney for Manning did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening.

    Inselberg is represented by Brian C. Brook of Clinton Brook & Peed and Michael S. Kasanoff.

    The Giants are represented by William J. O'Shaughnessy, William T. Reilly, Richard Hernandez and Desiree L. Grace of McCarter & English LLP.

    Giants equipment and locker room manager Edward Wagner Jr. is represented by Dennis Drasco of Lum Drasco & Positan LLC.

    The Skibas are represented by Gerald Krovatin of Krovatin Klingeman LLC.

    Barone & Park Cleaners are represented by Randy D. Park of the Choi Law Group.

    Eli Manning is represented by Louis Solomon of Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP.

    Steiner Sports Memorabilia is represented by Hillel I. Parness of Parness Law Firm PLLC.

    The case is Inselberg et al v. New York Football Giants Inc. et al., case number L-975-14, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County.

  • On Jan 16, 2015 the 1st amended complaint and demand for jury trial was filed;

    1st Amended Complaint

  • Just "a little" behind on this case;   a federal judge in Newark ruled Tuesday. NOv 11, 2014 giving the green light that the plantiff can pursue his lawsuit in New Jersey state court. Attorney Brian C. Brook said U.S. District Judge William J. Martini’s decision is a victory for his client, memorabilia dealer Eric Inselberg, because it will be easier to proceed with depositions and other discovery in state court.

    Green Light on lawsuit

  • Brandon Steiner found it prudent to release a statement yesterday regarding the game used sales made thru steiner.  What's interesting is the inclusion of "going forward statement".  One would think that would have already be in place;

     

    “Since 1987, Steiner Sports has been at the forefront of keeping honesty and integrity through the hobby of memorabilia collecting.

    “A recent civil action brought against the New York Giants and others has led to several mentions of Steiner Sports and the questioning of our practices. It must be noted that this civil action has never included Steiner Sports as a defendant. We are aware that we have been mentioned in the complaint due to our exclusive memorabilia partnership with Eli Manning. To our knowledge, accusations against the defendants in this case are untrue.

    “Through our relationship with Eli Manning, Steiner Sports obtains only several game-used items per year and we have never had any issues with any of the items that have been called into question. We have never knowingly sold or resold items we believed to be anything less than 100% authentic.
    “Steiner Sports is built on authenticity. Moving forward, we will be adding additional resources and strategies in this area to further protect our company, our customers and the athletes we work with.

    “We continue to support Eli Manning as he has been a great partner to Steiner Sports and look forward to a resolution on this matter.”

  • I talked with another collector, and he said, he had doubts to ANYTHING stan sports had was authentic.  That when they looked into things, they could not support players being anywhere near a event tied to them, so back then it made them wonder about players they were showing as doing a private signing with.  It would be interesting to find out more on it.  Maybe the author of the book will join this site and talk about his dealings in that case.

  • I believe I blogged about Stan's Sports somewhere...  They were a constant advertiser in some of the sporting news publications for years.  they advertised their many instore signings.  Seems some signed bb's came up for sale on ebay and between acquisition & receipt the operation bullpen information broke loose.  When I advised the seller the reaaction was "no problem, send back for reimbursement" & then what do I do with all the items I have.  My suggestion was to just have someone else opine on them.  His solution was to reoffer them minues the Stan's coas.

     

This reply was deleted.