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By MIKE HEUER
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
LAS VEGAS NV (CNS) A lawsuit accuses a Las Vegas antique and memorabilia dealer of running a "massive fraud" in cahoots with a "Pawn Stars" celebrity authenticator and others who fraudulently certify that memorabilia were once owned by celebrities. Neither the History Channel nor "Pawn Stars" is a party to the lawsuit. Daniel Odobas sued Antiquities of Nevada, three people and several other businesses on Aug. 25 in Clark County Court. He says he paid the defendants $171,900 for 33 "suspect items" from July 2014 to April 30, 2015. The most prominent defendant is Drew Max, whom Odobas describes as "a renowned television personality, having made many appearances on the History Channel's hit television show 'Pawn Stars.'" Odobas claims the defendants "used Max's renown to further bolster the authenticity of the suspect items."
Antiquities of Nevada also does business as Antiquities International and Antiquities of Las Vegas, at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace* on the Las Vegas Strip. Odobas also sued its president, Toby Stoffa. Neither the Forum Shops nor "Caesars Palace" is a party to the lawsuit. Also sued is Authentic Autographs Unlimited, an authenticator. Odobas says Max is an officer in that business, and an authenticator. The final defendants are Stephen Rocchi, of California, dba Guaranteed Forensic Authenticators, in San Diego and Clark counties. Odobas says he spent his money on rock and roll memorabilia allegedly from Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, The Beatles, and others, "based upon defendants' representations that the signature(s) on the suspect item were genuine and authentic." He says each item came with a certificate of authenticity signed by Stoffa, and another from either Authentic Autographs Unlimited and Drew Max, or Rocchi and Guaranteed Forensics Authenticators.
Odobas claims the defendants "knowingly sell fraudulent collectibles and memorabilia." "The scheme is that Stoffa and Antiquities obtain or create collectible memorabilia, which they advertise as having some connection to famous persons who have autographed or penned the memorabilia," the complaint states. "Stoffa and Antiquities then pay Max and/or Rocchi (and/or their companies) to provide a fraudulent certificate of authenticity, which entices a purchaser to believe the item is authentic. Further, the defendants use Max's celebrity status from the History Channel's TV show 'Pawn Stars' to lure unsuspecting customers to believe the certificates of authenticity and thereby purchase the suspect items." Neither the History Channel nor "Pawn Stars" is a party to the lawsuit. Obadas adds: "All of the defendants know or have very good reason to know that the suspect items are not, in fact, authentic." Antiquities of Las Vegas corporate attorney Tom Moore was not immediately available for comment Monday afternoon. A male voice answered "AAU" at Max's Authentic Autographs Unlimited in Las Vegas and hung up when asked for comment. A follow-up call went to voice mail and was not returned.
Rocchi did not respond to a phone call placed to Guaranteed Forensic Authenticators in San Diego Monday afternoon. Among the 33 suspect items Odobas says he bought are a handwritten and signed original copy of "Stepping Stone" by Jimi Hendrix, a copy of the Electric Ladyland LP signed by Hendrix and his band, a copy of the Texas Flood LP signed by Stevie Ray Vaughan and his band, a Morrison Hotel LP signed by The Doors, and other items.
Odobas says he also paid another $15,000 in fees and import taxes to ship the items to Canada, where he lives. He says he discovered the items were suspect when he decided to sell some, but several well-known auction houses and "authorities in the music memorabilia field" said they were "not authentic." So he hired James Spence Authentication JSA (one of two leaders in the hobby for authenticating autographs) to inspect the items, and it told him it was "unable to certify" the legitimacy of all of them but one, whose legitimacy was "inconclusive." The defendants refused to refund his money, Odobas says.
Odobas, of Vancouver, B.C., does not describe his occupation in the lawsuit, but Bloomberg lists a Daniel L. Odobas as president and CEO of Vancouver-based Travel America Vacations. Odobas seeks punitive damages for fraud, deceptive trade, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, conspiracy, bad faith, breach of contract and breach of warranty. He is represented by Jay Young with Howard & Howard in Las Vegas, who did not return a call seeking comment Monday.