1. Archive

Two men charged with faking Favre autographs

A widely known Milwaukee sports memorabilia dealer and a second man were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they sold more than 1,000 fake signatures of Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre for as much as $125 each.

The indictment also charges Ron Marth, owner of Mister Sports in nearby Mequon, with selling more than 1,000 fake signatures of other sports stars.

Rex Valenti is charged with signing 50 fake Favre signatures to photographs and being paid $10 for each by Marth, 53.

Valenti, 26, of West Allis, Wis., has agreed to plead guilty to charges of aiding and abetting a wire fraud scheme _ using a telephone to commit fraud _ according to a plea agreement filed Tuesday in federal court in Milwaukee.

He faces as much as five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Marth, 53, could not be reached for comment.

Joe Sweeney, Favre's marketing agent, said he and Favre went to the FBI a year ago with their suspicions when they saw Favre-signed items advertised at $20.

"I've seen Brett Favre sign thousands and thousands of autographs _ I know what it looks like," Sweeney said. "We saw some that didn't look quite right."

BROWN TO CARDS: Arizona signed former Giants QB Dave Brown to a two-year contract, providing a veteran backup to second-year starter Jake Plummer. Brown, who lost his starting job last season to Danny Kanell, will compete for theNo.

2 job with Stoney Case, who signed a one-year deal Tuesday. The Giants selected Brown, 28, in the first round of the 1992 supplemental draft. He was 93-of-180 for 1,023 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions last season. A pectoral muscle injury forced him to the bench.

WARRANT FOR BENNETT: A Buffalo city court judge issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Cornelius Bennett after the Falcons linebacker failed to surrender to begin serving a 60-day sexual abuse sentence. Bennett's attorney said he had trouble getting a flight from Georgia to Buffalo, but he assured the judge he would turn himself in today. The judge Tuesday ordered Bennett to begin the jail term after refusing a request from Bennett's lawyers to modify his sentence.

COWBOYS: The new offense coach Chan Gailey has installed is more challenging than nuclear physics, say some of the players who are trying to make it work. "It's like reading a Chinese newspaper," receiver Billy Davis said. "I'm used to knowing what everyone on the field is doing," Michael Irvin said. "Right now I'm struggling to learn what I'm supposed to do." Some players said Gailey's playbook is as thick as the Dallas phone book.

DOLPHINS: The new offense has found a supporter in QB Dan Marino. Marino had played under the same system since he entered the NFL in 1983. That changed when coach Jimmy Johnson fired offensive coordinator Gary Stevens and installed a simplified approach that emphasizes the running game. "It's kind of a challenge for all of us because we have to start and learn a whole new offense," Marino said. "So far, it's gone really well. It's kind of exciting for me. It's like going back to school." The most difficult part is learning the new terminology. Everything, from snap counts to pass routes, is numbered differently. "It's just a different way to communicate," Marino said. "That's all new for us, but something I should be able to handle. As time goes on, you get more comfortable with it."