Judge Ronald Guzman is apparently not a fan of plea agreements. For the second time, the U.S. District Court judge has rejected a deal between former sports memorabilia auctioneer Bill Mastro and government prosecutors over a fraud conviction. The New York Daily News I-team reported the latest development on its Twitter feed.
Instead, the case could be headed for trial after Guzman told attorneys for both sides Tuesday morning he still wasn’t satisfied with the agreement hammered out between lawyers for both sides.
Mastro is accused of placing bids in his own sports memorabilia auctions, forcing bidders to pay more than they would have otherwise. He’s also admitted to trimming the edges of the hobby’s most expensive baseball card, a T206 Honus Wagner card now graded PSA 8. He was indicted by a federal grand jury last July.
The two sides had reached a plea agreement that would limit Mastro’s jail time to 30 months but that was rejected by Guzman in February.
Last week, U.S. Attorney Nancy DePodesta filed a memorandum outlining why the government had agreed not to seek more than a 30-month sentence and fine, stating she believed it would be sufficient to deter other sports memorabilia dealers from committed fraud.
The government originally sought a much longer sentence but backed off in recent months when it became clear, they say, that determining the extent of fraud committed by Mastro against bidders through shill bidding, was difficult. They also say Mastro provided “valuable information” with regard to the case. Three of his colleagues at Mastro also face charges in connection with the auction house’s policies.
On Tuesday according to court records obtained by Sports Collectors Daily, Guzman ordered Mastro back into court for a status hearing on May 14 to set discovery and a trial schedule.