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Has Giants memorabilia case triggered criminal probe?

Wild Card Round - New York Giants v Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 8: Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants throws a pass in the fourth quarter during the NFC Wild Card game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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It will be somewhat easy for the NFL to look the other way on the Giants’ memorabilia fraud allegations as long as the claims arise only in civil litigation. If/when the situation morphs into a formal criminal investigation announced by the relevant authorities, it will be harder for the NFL to choose not to apply the plain language of the Personal Conduct Policy, which expressly encompasses fraud as a prohibited behavior.

For now, it appears that the wheels of justice have been moving, quietly and behind the scenes.

Via the New York Post, “the US Postal Service has opened a probe into the Giants memorabilia scandal with the help of federal prosecutors.” The Post notes that it’s not clear whether the investigation is ongoing.

According to the Post, court papers claim that federal agents interviewed Giants equipment manager Jeff Skiba as recently as October “in connection with . . . memorabilia fraud.” Likewise, Giants’ lawyers reportedly confirmed in a court filing that the United States Attorney’s Office in Manhattan opened a criminal investigation immediately after the filing of the civil lawsuit.

The Post explains that the supposed smoking-gun email from Eli Manning couldn’t form the basis of criminal charges because it was sent in 2010, and the statute of limitations for criminal fraud is only five years. However, the email likely can be used as evidence of any misconduct that may have occurred within the five-year window.

Prosecutors often don’t publicly declare the existence of an investigation until they do, typically through obtaining indictments or executing search warrants. If anyone from the Giants is ever indicted for memorabilia fraud, it would become virtually impossible for the league to do nothing in response.