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    Posted on Sat, Jun. 14, 2008 10:15 PM

    Missing comics caper marked by drama, big money

    Holy mystery!

    Get Clark Kent on the story and call in Bruce Wayne, too, if you can find them.

    Five supervaluable comic books — including those that introduced Superman and Batman — vanished after being shipped with other comics to a Blue Springs dealer, according to a lawsuit filed recently in Jackson County Circuit Court. The dealer, however, says the comics never existed or were stolen before he received the shipment.

    The legal Bam! Pow! over the five comic books is as serious as the million dollars they’re worth — serious enough to allegedly provoke a death threat.

    The Superman comic alone — “Action Comics” No. 1 — is a holy grail for collectors and considered the nation’s most valuable comic edition, experts say.

    Jaquiez Douglas of Memphis, Tenn., contends the five rare books in mint condition were in a box of comics he mailed four years ago for sale to Jay Parrino, a dealer in big-money collectibles who wanted to inspect them. Douglas said he had inherited the comics from his father.

    His shipping list included the five rare ones and about 40 others of little value, which equates the shipment to a strange mix of jewels and glass.

    Parrino told Douglas that the five valuable comics were not in the box when it arrived. When Douglas threatened to sue, according to his suit, Parrino told him that if Douglas made trouble he “would have (Douglas) knocked off.”

    Douglas could not be reached for comment.

    But last month, he sued Parrino, his wife, several employees and his business, Jay Parrino’s the Mint in Blue Springs.

    Parrino, of Lee’s Summit, denies making a death threat. He calls the suit a crude attempt to gouge him for money for comics he did not get.

    “You don’t stay in business 52 years by stealing things,” he said.

    The lawsuit also contends that Parrino has advertised for sale, and possibly sold, an “Action Comics” No. 1 and another of the missing comics.

    Parrino counters that he has sold several copies of those comics, but that none came from Douglas.

    Last month a Jackson County Circuit Court judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Parrino from selling any of the listed comic books, including the 40 or so nonvaluable comic books Douglas never got back.

    Parrino says the FBI took and kept them. In his lawsuit, Douglas contends he contacted law enforcement long ago and was told it was a civil dispute.

    FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said only that the comic book affair previously came to the agency’s attention.

    “We are not currently investigating this matter,” she said. “We don’t comment on matters of civil litigation.”

    So are the nonvaluable comics stored in an FBI evidence room, like lost pages of a dead investigation? The FBI is not saying.

    Douglas’ attorney, Patrick Miller of Overland Park, said: “You would think the FBI would contact my client and tell him they have his property. We were under the impression they weren’t involved at all.”

    As for the whole strange matter, Miller said that “there’s a lot of drama associated with this.”

    Court papers filed Friday by Parrino’s attorney deny all allegations, call the lawsuit outrageous and say it was filed with “evil motive and reckless indifference.” The filing by attorney Brad Leitch asks for punitive damages from Douglas and says Douglas should pay Parrino’s legal costs.

    Parrino has mixed drama and big money in the past, which he says makes him a target of scam artists.

    Next page >

    The Star’s Mark Morris contributed to this report. To reach Joe Lambe, call 816-234-4314 or send e-mail to


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