MOORPARK — The owners of a sports memorabilia store have been arrested on suspicion of grand theft and forgery after allegedly selling more than $20,000 in merchandise bearing forgeries of famous athletes' autographs over the past two years, authorities said Friday.
Jack and Cheri Goldberg, owners of The Original Moook in Moorpark, were arrested Thursday evening during a raid on their West Los Angeles Avenue business after a monthlong investigation surrounding allegations that the couple were selling forged sports collectibles, Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Julie Smith said.
Deputies seized what is believed to be several thousand dollars worth of items featuring the forged autographs of home run king Mark McGwire and Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal and other athletes, said Sgt. Terry Hughes of the Moorpark office of the Sheriff's Department.
Detectives found several autographed basketballs in Reseda where Cheri Goldberg had allegedly hidden them after realizing that she and her husband were under investigation, Smith said.
Authorities allege that the Goldbergs have sold more than $20,000 in forged merchandise over the past two years.
The Goldbergs were detained at the East County Jail, where Jack Goldberg was released after posting $10,000 bail, Smith said. As of Friday, Cheri Goldberg, who has a prior felony grand-theft conviction in California, was still in custody for three felony warrants out of Las Vegas for allegedly writing checks with insufficient funds.
Hughes said Jack Goldberg denied any knowledge that the items were forgeries and said he bought all of the merchandise in question from outside parties.
The department's investigation came to a head Thursday afternoon when an undercover sheriff's deputy, along with McGwire business manager James Milner, purchased more than $700 worth of collectibles featuring the St. Louis Cardinals slugger's signature, Smith said.
She said that Milner, along with O'Neal business manager Michael Parris, verified that all of the merchandise in question as well as several items bearing the basketball superstar's autograph are fake.