Ex-pastor gets 1 year, 9 months for sports memorabilia fraud

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A former Arkansas pastor has been sentenced to one year and nine months in federal prison for his part in helping a sports memorabilia collector make millions of dollars by fraudulently selling normal items represented as valuable mementos.

John Alexander McLean, 59, was ordered Wednesday to report to a federal prison by April 8 and to repay $203,966 in restitution to 10 people that he conned, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. named nine of the people, who are owed amounts ranging from $5,300 to $48,216, and one other unnamed person who was defrauded of $3,700.

The former Presbyterian minister in Little Rock, represented by attorney Darrell Brown Jr., pleaded guilty in October to one count of wire fraud related to a August 2016 wire transfer of $9,000 from a Paragon Auctions bank account to his own account at the Arkansas Federal Credit Union.

McLean’s sentencing factored in all relevant conduct associated with a fraud scheme in which he admitted to helping John Rogers execute from June 2016 through November 2017. Rogers is serving a 12-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in 2017 in Chicago to scheming to defraud banks and investors out of $25 million. The schemes included offering a phony Heisman Trophy as collateral for a $100,000 loan and another involving a fake Super Bowl I game ball.

“I clearly lost my bearings in my dealings with John Rogers,” McLean told the judge during the sentencing.

He said he knew it was wrong to fabricate that he and his father owned items that Rogers attempted to sell and could vouch for their value. McLean falsely led potential buyers to believe that his father acquired some of the items from his relationships with famous football coaches.

“I’m incredibly ashamed of myself,” he said, adding, “There are no excuses for what I did.”

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