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  Operation Bullpen: The inside story of the biggest forgery scam in American history

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Author Topic:   Operation Bullpen: The inside story of the biggest forgery scam in American history
freshspot
Member

Posts: 282
From: Lexington, MA, USA
Registered: Dec 2005

posted 01-09-2007 04:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for freshspot   Click Here to Email freshspot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
by Kevin Nelson, Southampton Books $18.95, http://www.operationbullpen.com/

Operation Bullpen is the true story of the high-flying national crime ring that forged the autographs of sports stars and celebrities and ripped off American consumers for more than $100 million, before being busted by a dramatic three-year FBI undercover investigation. Nelson conducted exclusive interviews with forgers, counterfeit dealers, and the FBI to piece together both sides of the drama. This is an often unbelievable, sometimes funny, and always interesting book about autographs and forgery.

While the vast majority of the book deals with sports autographs, there are a few references to Armstrong forgeries included, so I wanted to offer a short review here. I have written a much longer review plus an author Q&A for the March / April, 2007 issue of the UACC Pen & Quill.

I was particularly fascinated by the story of Greg Marino, master forger. In order to get into the signing zone hed smoke pot and often sit in front of the TV to work. Marino would consult real exemplar autographs that he and his cohorts had collected and carefully cataloged in a series of binders.

After many years and hundreds of thousands of autographs, I was amazed that Marino could forge any sig just by looking once at the exemplar. The stories of Marino sitting in a comfortable chair with his signing arm propped up on pillows, stoned to the bone, and polishing off 400 sigs while watching a Yankees game on TV made my draw drop.

The inside account of the three year undercover FBI sting operation brought the book together, making it feel like a thriller. We experience the ups and downs of individual agents assigned to the case, learn about wiretaps and hidden recording devices, and sit at the edge of our seat as the busts come down. Every serious autograph collector and dealer needs to read and understand the story of the biggest forgery scam in American history.

Dave Scott
(not the astronaut)

mjanovec
Member

Posts: 3622
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 01-09-2007 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to admit I'm not too impressed with his Beatles forgery. He has four different signature styles from different eras on one photo. The Lennon would have to be 1963-64-ish, while the Starr would have to be post-1990.

I don't know Babe Ruth's signature all that well, but the photo of the box of signed baseballs was indeed interesting.

Anyone have a scan of one of his Armstrongs?

poofacio
Member

Posts: 268
From: United Kingdom
Registered: Oct 2006

posted 01-09-2007 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for poofacio   Click Here to Email poofacio     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If history repeats itself "Marinos" will become collectable in their own right. Two victorian gentlemen by the name of Billy and Percy forged medals here in the UK in Victorian times. Their forgeries are now worth many times the price of an original medal. It is a funny old world. Has anyone any genuine Marinos for sale?!!

Lunatiki
Member

Posts: 237
From: Amarillo, TX, USA
Registered: Dec 2006

posted 01-09-2007 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lunatiki     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So what became of Marino? Anyone know?

Joel

freshspot
Member

Posts: 282
From: Lexington, MA, USA
Registered: Dec 2005

posted 01-11-2007 04:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for freshspot   Click Here to Email freshspot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Operation Bullpen (page 283)

Dozens of people were sent to jail and forefited millions of dollars in illegal gains. Graig Marino, master forger and the man many FBI agents consider to have done the best work they have seen, served two years in jail in Navada and then six months at a halfway house. He is now a cashier at a grocery warehouse.

Examples of his work are on display at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico Virgina. They are shown to the public who take the lab tour.

All times are CT (US)

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