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FBI giving memorabilia away to charity

SAN DIEGO -- The FBI has spent five years tracking down
baseball bats, balls, jerseys and other memorabilia with phony
signatures of famous athletes. Now, the agency is giving the
collectibles to charity -- minus the fake autographs.

"We've obliterated the forged signatures," said Jan Caldwell,
an FBI spokeswoman. "They've been marked out in various ways."

Authorities will donate "a warehouse full" of goodies to San
Diego-area charities Thursday, said Caldwell, who didn't have a
precise inventory. Pro football Hall of Famer Lance Alworth and
representatives of Major League Baseball and Internet auctioneer
EBay Inc., all of whom assisted in the investigation, will
participate.

It marks the end of Operation Bullpen, which produced dozens of
convictions and shut down several counterfeit trading card rings,
according to the FBI. One ring made thousands of fake trading cards
of former baseball slugger Mark McGwire, former Denver Broncos
quarterback John Elway and others, which were later sold at
collector shows.

The donations include bats, mitts, balls and other items that
were treated to remove the fake signatures, Caldwell said.

The phony trading cards are not part of the giveaway.