Suspected organizer of fake sports memorabilia ring wants to go home

Mahoning County Court Judge Maureen Sweeney denied Cliff Panezich's request to return to Las Vegas, where he lives

Panezich is accused of putting together a group of people to sell sports memorabilia with forged signatures through eBay, making millions in the process.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The man accused of masterminding a fraud scheme specializing in selling phony sport memorabilia online will have to stay here in Ohio until his trial.

Wednesday morning, Cliff Panezich was back in front of Judge Maureen Sweeney in Mahoning County.

Panezich is accused of putting together a group of people to sell sports memorabilia with forged signatures through eBay, making millions in the process.

Although prosecutors have made plea deal offers, Panezich has turned them down. In court Wednesday, he asked to change the conditions of his $100,000 bond.

“The only reason the issue came up, whether or not the conditions of his bond should be modified, simply was because he exercised his Constitutional right not to plead guilty,” said Panezich’s attorney, Percy Squire.

Panezich and his parents live in Las Vegas now. His mother Rose has already been sentenced to house arrest and is expected to testify against her son.

Last month, however, Judge Sweeney ordered Panezich to stay in Ohio, and prosecutors don’t want him to leave.

“I do think he is a flight risk, given his past behavior,” said Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Marty Desmond.

“He has no employment here. He has no transportation here,” Squire argued. “His father, as the court has been made aware, is ill. His presence in the Valley is required, and it’s working at a considerable hardship, not only on him, but on his family.”

Desmond told the judge that he intends to present Panezich’s case to a County grand jury for indictment, possibly as soon as Thursday. Although the defense argued that there was no need to keep Panezich here, Desmond disagreed.

“One of the factors for the court to consider when considering amending bond is the strength of the state’s case. The defendant confessed,” Desmond said.

That was enough for the judge, who quickly denied Panezich’s request. For now, he has to stay in the area.

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