A Commerce man accused of defrauding collectors of more than $1 million with counterfeit vintage movie posters was in federal court Wednesday after being formally charged by the FBI.
Kerry Haggard, 45, made an initial appearance in front of a magistrate judge in U.S. District Court in Gainesville on a single charge of wire fraud.
Haggard was released on a $100,000 recognizance bond and is scheduled to appear May 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in a federal court in Manhattan, Haggard sold what he purported to be vintage horror movie posters and lobby cards from the 1930s and 1940s, knowing they were reproductions.
Haggard used a New York-based printing company to make high-quality ink jet copies from hard copies or digital scans, according to federal prosecutors. Haggard is also accused of using a restoration company to make the posters look as real as possible.
The fake lobby cards and movie posters were for classic horror movies that included “Frankenstein,” “The Mummy’s Hand,” “Son of Frankenstein” and “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
“Kerry Haggard’s purported fraud was a real-life horror show for his victims, who are allegedly out of pocket for more than a million dollars,” Bharara said. Haggard already faced three civil lawsuits accusing him of bilking collectors. Some of the items Haggard acquired through fraudulent trades were valued in excess of $10,000, according to the lawsuits. One poster for the 1934 movie “The Black Cat” was valued at $286,000, according to a lawsuit filed by Jim Gresham of Michigan.
“Authentic vintage movie posters are valuable pieces of memorabilia sometimes worth thousands of dollars,” said FBI Special Agent George Venizelos. “But Haggard wasn’t a legitimate purveyor of fine collectibles. He created and peddled fakes. Whether the merchandise is artwork, baseball memorabilia or movie posters, if you try to peddle fakes, you’ll draw the attention of not just potential purchasers, but the FBI.”