$500K Restitution Ordered In Businessman’s Fraud Case

OCEAN CITY — An Ocean City business owner, who pleaded guilty last spring to one count of wire fraud for his role in a $2.5 million counterfeit sports memorabilia scheme carried out over the Internet, still awaits his fate at sentencing, but this week was ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution in the case.

In January, Ocean City Brewing Company owner Joshua Shores, 41, of Pennsylvania and Ocean City, was charged in U.S. District Court in connection with a $2.5 million fraud scheme involving counterfeit sports memorabilia sold over the Internet through his various companies over a period from January 2008 to May 2013. Shores, who owns and operates the Ocean City Brewing Company, created various Internet businesses in Pennsylvania and Maryland to traffic counterfeit and fraudulent sports memorabilia.

In March, Shores entered an agreement in which he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison along with the forfeiture of a residential property on Chicago Avenue in Ocean City along with various vehicles and other property allegedly obtained through the proceeds of the fraud scheme and many of those forfeitures have already been conducted. However, not listed among the property for potential forfeiture is the Ocean City Brewing Company on Coastal Highway in Ocean City or its sister brewery and restaurant operation in Bel Air.

Sentencing has been set for Feb. 27 in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. However, prior to the sentencing hearing, Shores this week entered an agreement in which he agreed to pay $500,000 in restitution in the case. According to the specifics of the agreement, Shores will be required to pay the $500,000 in restitution in increments of $750 per month until it has been paid off.

From the beginning, Shores has attempted to deflect any attention from the Ocean City Brewing Company and separated the entities from the federal criminal case in a formal statement released through his attorney Robert Biddle.

“Ocean City Brewing and Distilling Company will not be impacted by my guilty plea and acceptance of responsibility on Monday, Feb. 29 for very poor decisions I made several years ago,” the statement reads. “Ocean City Brewing will always be a family-run operation, built on family values, and with that philosophy, it will continue to grow and succeed.”

Almost from the beginning, Shores has not shied away from the charges against him and their potential impact on his other businesses, and he continued to own his mistakes this week.

“I deeply regret the decisions I made which destroyed a previous sports business that I built over many years,” the statement reads. “By admitting guilt, I have begun the process to make right the wrongs I committed in operating the sports business.”

According to the charging documents, Shores, through his various Internet companies, obtained counterfeit sports jerseys in bulk from China and affixed autographs to them including the signatures of well-known professional athletes and sports figures. Shores then sold the fraudulent jerseys along with other sports memorabilia through his Internet businesses with fraudulent certificates of authenticity.

Shores allegedly rented mailboxes and established mail receiving services with companies located in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Unsuspecting buyers purchased the fraudulent memorabilia from Shores’ Internet businesses through PayPal and Amazon accounts he created.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.