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Alleged Favre Forgers Indicted

April 29, 1998

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ A federal grand jury indicted two men Tuesday on charges of selling more than 1,000 fake signatures of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, with some bringing as much as $125.

Ron Marth, 53, owner of a sports memorabilia business in suburban Mequon, also was charged with selling more than 1,000 fake signatures of other athletes.

Rex Valenti, 26, of West Allis, was accused of getting $10 apiece from Marth for signing 50 fake signatures to photographs of Favre.

Valenti has agreed to plead guilty to charges of aiding and abetting a wire fraud scheme _ using a telephone to commit fraud, according to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in U.S. District court.

He faces as much as five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Joe Sweeney, Favre’s marketing agent, said Tuesday that he and Favre went to the FBI a year ago over suspicions that phony Favre autographs were being sold when they saw ads for Favre-signed items selling for $20.

``I’ve seen Brett Favre sign thousands and thousands of autographs _ I know what it looks like,″ Sweeney said. ``We saw some that didn’t look quite right.″

Favre ``cares about the little kids who went out and shoveled snow and cut lawns so they could get an autograph _ those are the ones most misled and cheated by forgers,″ Sweeney said.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Schneider said Tuesday the scam hurt both Favre and buyers, many of them youngsters, by depriving them of what they thought were real autographs on photos of Favre.

The indictment alleges that between Jan. 1, 1997, and Feb. 18, 1998, Marth sold fake Favre autographs by mixing them in with legitimate Favre autographs.

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