Former NY Mets clubhouse manager pleads guilty in case a St. Lucie County detective helped investigate, according to Sheriff Mascara
Former New York Mets clubhouse manager Chrles Samuels, arrested in New York in May 2011, has pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property and tax fraud in a case that a St. Lucie County Sheriff's detective helped investigate, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara has announced.
Samuels, 55, Tuesday pleaded guilty Tuesday in Queens Superior Court in New York City to possessing almost $2.3 million worth of on-field and game-used Mets memorabilia and collectibles, including autographed jerseys, bats and baseballs, all of which were property of the Mets.
Samuels worked for the Mets from 1976 until November 2010 when the Mets fired him.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office helped investigate him, Sheriff Mascara said, leading to a 21-count indictment and Tuesday's guilty pleas.
"We are proud of St. Lucie County Sheriff's Detective Andrew Bolonka, who was recognized by name for his work on the case by District Attorney Richard A. Brown," said Sheriff Mascara. "Guilty pleas are an indication that the investigation was thorough and sound, leaving the defendant with no alternative but to admit to his crimes."
Sheriff Mascara said: "New York City police detectives contacted St. Lucie County Sheriff's Detective Andrew Bolonka in December 2010. At NYPD's request, Detective Bolonka obtained and served a witness subpoena duces tecum on the management of Security Self Storage, 501 N.W. Business Center Drive, in St. Lucie West, Port St. Lucie. Inside a storage unit at the business, he found more than half a million dollars worth of New York Mets property."
The property in the storage unit consisted of 4,952 Mets uniform team jerseys in 124 boxes, as well as two boxes containing 24 Mike Piazza (Mets player) baseball bats.
Detective Bolonka secured this evidence until NYPD detectives flew to Florida and took possession of it, Sheriff Mascara said.
District Attorney Brown said, "The defendant was a once trusted employee of the New York Mets who, by his guilty plea, admits that he took advantage of his position and employers to amass a sports memorabilia collection worth millions of dollars. On top of that he failed to pay City and State taxes on tens of thousands of dollars that he had received while employed by the New York Mets. In sum, the defendant had a dream job that any Mets fan would die for - and he blew it. He allowed his greed to get the better of him."
As part of his guilty plea, Samuels agreed to pay restitution of$20,843 to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, $14,738.35 to the New York City Department of Finance, $24,955 to Sterling Mets, L.P. (which does business as the New York Mets) and to pay $15,000 in forfeiture to the Queens County District Attorney's Office.
Additionally, Samuels is banned from Citi Field in Queens, the New York Mets' minor league park in Brooklyn, and their spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Sentencing is scheduled for April 16, 2012, at which time Samuels is expected to be sentenced to five years' probation.
Click on Image for Full Size
Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.