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General manager of OC Brewing Company in Abingdon charged in $2.5 million wire fraud scheme

A Bel Air man who is the general manager of O.C. Brewing Company in Bel Air and Ocean City was charged Friday in connection with a $2.5 million wire fraud scheme involving a group of Internet sports memorabilia businesses he owned, according to officials.

Joshua Aaron Shores, 41, of Bel Air and Ocean City, is charged in a criminal information in U.S. District Court in Scranton, Pa., with wire fraud, according to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, Middle District of Pennsylvania.

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Shores is the general manager of both of O.C. Brewing Company's restaurants, one on Merchant Boulevard in Abingdon that opened late last year in the former Joe's Crab Shack, and one on Coastal Highway in Ocean City, according to Pilar Gracia, administrator of the Harford County Liquor Control Board.

Shores is not on the Bel Air restaurant's liquor license, nor is he listed as an owner of either business; "he does, however, run both as general manager," Gracia said.

The charge is based upon Shores' alleged five-year scheme, between 2008 and 2013, to obtain money and property by dealing in counterfeit and fraudulent sports memorabilia, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Shores allegedly created, owned and operated Internet businesses under the names of Dealakhan LLC, Stadium Authentics, Autograph Showcase, Sunset Beach, End Game Sports, Authenticgraph and others with facilities in York County, Pa., and in Maryland, and allegedly used the businesses to traffic counterfeit and fraudulent sports memorabilia.

Shores allegedly represented addresses of mailbox receiving services to customers as his business address, created and registered PayPal and Amazon.com accounts in his name and in the names of others to receive payments from customers, purchased counterfeit sports jerseys in bulk from China and affixed fraudulent autographs to them representing them to be authentic autographs of well-known athletes and sports figures, and also using fake certificates of authenticity. According to the Criminal Information, Shores allegedly unlawfully obtained approximately $2.5 million from buyers of the fraudulent items.

The Criminal Information also seeks forfeiture of real property in Ocean City, about $140,000 cash and $26,000 in proceeds related to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a sports utility vehicle. The government will also seek restitution for victims of the fraud scheme.

The Criminal Information was filed pursuant to a plea agreement entered into between the United States and Shores. The agreement, which is subject to the approval by the court, includes joint recommendations relating to loss amounts, forfeiture allegations and an agreement to pay restitution as determined by the court.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski.

Shores is facing a possible sentence of up to 20 years in jail, supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

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