2012-02-29 / Front Page

Amazin’ Plea For Mets Clubhouse Manager

By LIZ GOFF

Ex-Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels dodged prison time last week after pleading guilty to stealing team memorabilia valued at more than $2.3 million.

Prosecutors said Samuels, 55, of Arverne, Queens, swiped autographed and unsigned collectibles for resale on the souvenir market, including 507 signed jerseys, 828 bats, 304 caps, 22 batting helmets and 10 equipment bags that he stashed away in the basement of a friend’s house in Madison, Connecticut.

Samuels started working for the Mets in 1976. He was made the team equipment manager in 1983 and later became clubhouse manager and traveling secretary.

The Mets fired him in November 2010 amid allegations that he had bet on baseball games - and after an audit revealed he used team checks to cover his mounting personal expenses.

Samuels, who spent most of his adult life working for the Mets, was accused of falsifying business records in a scam to skim $25,000 off meal money provided by the Mets to umpires.

He was also accused of cheating on his city and state taxes to save $24,000 over a two-year period, by not claiming tips that he received from Mets players.

Samuels avoided jail time by pleading guilty to two counts of criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of tax fraud.

As part of the plea deal, Samuels had to pay the Mets $24,955, the city $14,738, the state $20,348 and $15,000 in restitution to the Queens District Attorney’s Office for the cost of the investigation.

Under the plea deal, he will also have to return the stolen collection of Mets memorabilia to the team. None of the memorabilia was sold by Samuels, who stashed it away to pay for his retirement, prosecutors said.

Samuels is expected to be sentenced on April 16 to five years’ probation – and he is now banned from Citi Field and Mets games, for life.

He faced eight to 25 years in prison, if convicted at trial. He could still face jail time if he violates his probation or fails to repay the almost $75,000 in back taxes and restitution to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

“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,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“The defendant was once a 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,”  Brown said.

Samuels, who is free on $75,000 bond, refused to comment as he rushed past reporters outside Queens Supreme Court on February 21.

The thefts were uncovered by cops assigned to the NYPD Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau and detectives at the Queens District Attorney’s Squad.
 

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