A bat autographed by Phillies star Roy Halladay fetched $392 during an online auction this week of sports memorabilia confiscated from a Cherry Hill con artist. A framed souvenir photograph from Halladay's postseason no-hitter and a ticket stub to the landmark 2010 game went for more — $663 — even though it wasn't signed.
Halladay died two weeks ago when he crashed his sports plane into the Gulf of Mexico. He was skimming the surface at high speeds, according to investigators.
While the two collectibles that paid tribute to Halladay were expected to be a hit with online bidders, Eagles fever also kicked in when the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office launched its auction to sell off the goods that the convicted con artist and other criminals were forced to forfeit. Overall, the auction brought in $22,133, said Joel Bewley, spokesman for the prosecutor.
"Money collected from the sale of items originally purchased using resources gained through criminal activity will now be used to fight crime," Bewley said.
Among other big sellers: a football helmet autographed by Eagles linebacker Chuck "Concrete Charlie" Bednarik and a copy of the Sports Illustrated photograph, also autographed by him, that captured the moment he clinched a victory in 1960 with an aggressive tackle that knocked New York Giants halfback Frank Gifford unconscious.
His celebration was controversial, with some critics accusing Bednarik of taunting the prone Gifford.
Bednarik's helmet went for $300. The photograph, which included his snarky handwritten remark: "This [expletive] game is over" … "Sorry Frank" right above the image of the fallen Gifford, garnered $386.
On some of the collectibles, the athletes who signed them also wrote "To Mark," referring to Mark Begley, 53, the Cherry Hill man who was convicted of defrauding families.
Authorities said Begley, 53, had worked out of the Moorestown law offices of his father, Thomas Jr., who was not involved in the crime. The younger Begley had held himself out to be a loan specialist and defrauded four families two years ago of $182,740 in the guise of obtaining reverse mortgages or refinancing packages for them.
Bewley said Begley was sentenced a year ago to four years in prison. He served about six months before he was paroled on Aug. 5, 2016, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections website. He had admitted to charges of theft by deception and failure to pay state income taxes, and was ordered to pay restitution in full to the four families and to pay the taxes he had owed.
While the memorabilia from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, 76ers, and a few other teams attracted the most attention, a diamond-encrusted Cartier watch that was seized from a drug dealer and later added to the auction ended up fetching the biggest prize — $11,050. Coming in second were diamond earrings and earring jackets, also seized during a drug bust. The earrings went for about $2,400.
Alfred Finocchiaro, owner of Alfred's Auctions in Hightstown, N.J., organized the online sale for the Prosecutor's Office and accepted the bids.
Finocchiaro said the watch had been appraised by a jeweler at $18,500, but he said most people who are looking to buy at auction are aiming to get a bargain. "I'm glad someone saw the value in it," he said.
Among the sports stuff, he said he also was taken aback at the generosity heaped on some items whose authenticity could not be guaranteed. An Eagles football brought in $300, even though Finocchiaro said he couldn't decipher who had signed it.
In his description, he said simply it was signed by an Eagles player, and then added a question mark.
Eagles fever, or did someone recognize the name?
It was also buyer beware for a Phillies baseball whose signature was not clear. The name seemed to contain the letters M, B, d, and t. Someone bought it for $66.30.
The Flyers pucks were the least lucrative items sold, with some going for $11. But a signed Bobby Clarke jersey sold for $130, even though it also was addressed "To Mark." The signature of the famed Flyers captain, however, was trumped by the autograph of Mike Eruzione, the captain of the "Miracle on Ice" U.S. Olympics team that upset the favored Russians in 1980 in Lake Placid, N.Y. His jersey sold for $241.88.