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story.lead_photo.caption John Rogers

Three weeks before he's due to be sentenced in federal court for cheating an investor by using a counterfeit Heisman Trophy, former sports memorabilia dealer John Rogers made his first Pulaski County Circuit Court appearance Monday on commercial burglary and felony theft charges.

Rogers, whose most recent address is Little Rock, faces accusations he broke into his former business and took computer hard drives in August 2015.

But Rogers' arraignment on the state charges, which could net him up to 30 years in prison, was delayed until January by Circuit Judge Barry Sims to give the 44-year-old time to hire a lawyer.

Rogers was arrested in the break-in at the former Sports Card Plus on East 24th Street in North Little Rock about 3½ months after the burglary. The property was deeded over to Rogers' ex-wife after their October 2014 divorce. Police say the building was accessed using a special key and that surveillance video shows Rogers inside the building.

Senior deputy prosecutor Melanie Martin told the judge Monday that prosecutors had agreed to a request by Rogers, as an overture toward resolving the charges, to delay formally charging him until his federal case was resolved.

In March, Rogers pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court in Chicago, admitting that as the owner and operator of Sports Card Plus and Rogers Photo Archive in North Little Rock, he put up a doctored Heisman Trophy as collateral for a $100,000 loan. Rogers used fraudulent documents to bolster his claim that the prize was worth $175,000 to $225,000, court filings show.

The altered trophy was part of Rogers' scheme to use fake sports memorabilia and phony documents to secure more than $4 million in loans from multiple Arkansas financial institutions, according to his federal plea agreement.

As a condition of that plea deal with federal prosecutors, Rogers has also admitted to selling unspecified sports memorabilia that he knew was fake either because he had counterfeited the materials or altered them to make them appear legitimate.

He is scheduled for sentencing on Nov. 20. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Rogers also faces a Nov. 6 court date in response to an order of protection petition filed in circuit court by his former girlfriend. Amber Davis, 42, reported that she and Rogers dated for more than 18 months -- living together for most of that time -- until September. Court filings show that Rogers has not been served with Davis' petition.

In her petition, she states that on Oct. 1 at her Thayer Street home, Rogers told her that he should kill her and then himself.

The petition also claims that Rogers has manhandled her in the past, causing bruising. She reports that he's choked her, shoved her and pointed a knife at her. Her petition states that she reported the incident to Little Rock police, but that report could not be immediately confirmed on Monday.

Metro on 10/31/2017


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