Charlie Samuels, the former longtime clubhouse manager for the New York Mets, has pleaded guilty to criminally possessing almost $2.3 million worth of on-field and game-used Mets memorabilia and collectibles – including autographed jerseys, bats and baseballs – belonging to the Mets organization and to evading City and State taxes.
“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,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “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.”
Samuels began his career with the Mets in 1976, was made equipment manager in 1983 and subsequently became the clubhouse manager and traveling secretary. He was terminated by the Mets organization in November 2010.
Samuels, who has been free on $75,000 bail since his arrest in May 2011, appeared Tuesday before Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron and pleaded guilty to the crimes of second degree criminal possession of stolen property and third- and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud in satisfaction of the charges against 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, at which time Samuels is expected to be sentenced to five years’ probation.
District Attorney Brown said that, according to the guilty plea, Samuels knowingly possessed hundreds of autographed and unsigned New York Mets jerseys, baseballs, bats, helmets and other game-used equipment between September 1, 2007, and November 13, 2007, that he had taken without the club’s permission. The items had an appraised value of $2,282,265.
The Mets property was recovered in November 2010 from the basement of a Madison, Connecticut, house belonging to a friend of Samuels. Samuels also pleaded guilty to under reporting the true amount of his income on his 2009 New York State tax returns in order to avoid a tax liability for the year. The indictment specifically charged that Samuels under reported the true amount of the dues and gratuities that he had received from ballplayers and others.