News Archives

New York Giants, Eli Manning Created & Distributed Fake Memorabilia: Explosive New Lawsuit

January 30th, 2014 at 7:30 AM
By Dan Benton

The New York Giants, co-owner John Mara, quarterback Eli Manning, equipment manager Joe Skiba and several other members of the organization may soon find themselves in hot water as a recent lawsuit, shared on Thursday by the New York Post, alleges that they have been creating and distributing fake memorabilia for many years. In fact, the lawsuit goes as far as to list a piece currently sitting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a forgery.

And the alleged fake? Well, it's a big one — a helmet allegedly worn by Eli Manning in 2007 when the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Other alleged forgeries include "game-worn" Eli Manning jersey's, multiple "game-worn" helmets from Super Bowl XLVI and a "game-worn" Manning helmet from 2004, his rookie season. Some of these items have even allegedly been sold to collectors, with a Certificate of Authenticity, via memorabilia auction house Steiner Sports, with whom Eli has an exclusive contract.

The lawsuit also alleges that Manning willingly took part in these forgeries and distribution as a way to "hang on to his personal items."

The lawsuit continues that it has become the norm within the Giants organization to create and distribute fake memorabilia — so much so that it was even openly discussed (allegedly) by equipment manager Joe Skiba using the team's official e-mail address.

One of the e-mail exchanges, as detailed by the New York Post, went as follows (it occurred between Eric Inselberg — more coming on him shortly — and Joe Skiba):

“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 the claims date back to long before Manning was even a thought in the Giants' mind, including one from 2001 in which locker-room manager Ed Wagner Jr. told Barry Barone, the Giants' dry cleaner since 1982, “to intentionally damage multiple jerseys to make them appear to have been game-worn when they had not been.”

All of the allegations are just a small portion of a civil-racketeering, breach-of-contract, malicious-prosecution and trade-libel lawsuit filed Wednesday in Bergen County Superior Court by sports collector Eric Inselberg, who was indicted in 2011 for memorabilia fraud after being caught selling fake memorabilia. However, the case against Inselberg was dropped in May of 2013 after a judge noted “prosecution was no longer appropriate in light of some new facts that were pointed out to us by defense counsel.”

Inselberg's lawyer says the case was dropped after the court was informed that Giants' staffers had lied to the Grand Jury in an effort to conceal their allegedly fake memorabilia empire and to cover-up their relationship to Inselberg.

The lawsuit further alleges that Wagner, Barone, the Skiba's and others were told by "Giants brass" to outright lie to federal prosecutors about how much memorabilia and merchandise they have sold over the years. It also states that Manning was well aware the helmets being sold through Steiner were fake, but he informed the company that they were, in fact, real. All helmets, some of which were returned by angry fans who insisted they were not authentic, were eventually resold to other fans and collectors.

Interestingly, Inselberg also claims in the lawsuit that Giants co-owner John Mara named him “Giants Memorabilia Curator" after he helped to launch the Legacy Club, which is a popular attraction in MetLife Stadium.

The big line of the lawsuit comes when Inselberg claims to have witnessed this fake memorabilia creation at the hands of Skiba, and was then informed by Skiba that the team “created fraudulent memorabilia at the direction of the Giants’ management and players.”

“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.

Ultimately, if this lawsuit and the subsequent allegation prove to be true, this become a major federal case and carries with it major prison sentences.

In full, the suit names: New York Giants, Inc., Eli Manning, John Mara, Joe Skiba, Ed Skiba, Christine Procops (team CFO), William Heller (team lawyer), Barry Barone and Ed Wagner Jr.

When asked about the suit on Thursday morning, Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch said it had "no merit" but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, the Giants have released the following official statement:

"This suit is completely without any merit whatsoever and we will defend it vigorously. We will not otherwise comment on pending litigation."

Photo credit: www.cheapjerseyslink.com / Foter / CC BY-SA

Also…

Facebook Twitter Plusone Pinterest Linkedin Digg Delicious Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Posterous Email

Tags: Eli Manning, Eric Inselberg, Football, Joe Skiba, John Mara, MetLife Stadium, New York, New York Giants, NFL

Related posts

7 Responses to “New York Giants, Eli Manning Created & Distributed Fake Memorabilia: Explosive New Lawsuit”

  1.  Dirt says:

    In before Krow lobs a well place $9.50 beer joke

  2.  jfunk says:

    Ugg. What a stupid thing to get in trouble over. Fake memorabilia? Really? Just give up the goods or don’t. There’s a million other things for these guys to make a buck on.

  3.  kujo says:

    Jesus…..this is not good…..

  4.  JimStoll says:

    If true (and you always always always have to start with “if”), it would make you look at Eli a little differently, as well as the rest of the well-burnished Giants organization

    I must say, however, it seems like one of those alleged scandals too large to have been kept quiet this long

  5.  TuckThis says:

    UGH!

  6.  jfunk says:

    This could very easily be both true and not true. That email exchange doesn’t really say anything other than Skiba acknowledging the stuff referenced is fake. He’s saying “tell your buddy not to buy that, there’s no way it’s real”. That’s not an admission that he created it and deliberately distributed it for sale as real.

    Just because they create “worn” equipment deliberately doesn’t mean they’ve ever attempted to sell it as authentic. They could just be used as props, etc. It doesn’t even really matter if the stuff on display in the stadium is fake, it’s just for show.

    I certainly hope that’s the case and this guy just got caught taking those “authentic replicas” he got from them and pawned them off as real on his own. If the Giants organization actually took part in making and selling fake memorabilia for profit, that’s just sad. They have way too many revenue streams to be peddling Role-X watches on the street corner.

    Major, major blow to their reputation and respectability if this proved true. I have a feeling, even if it is true, that they will find some way to claim it was a few bad apples rather than an organizational plan, throw a few fall guys under the bus, and give some statement about paying closer attention to their “internal processes” to make sure it never happens again.

  7.  TuckThis says:

    Doesn’t matter how they rationalize it. I’ll still be a fan, but I sure will look at this organization differently.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Login with: