Longtime New York Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels has been indicted on charges that he stole almost $2.3 million worth of on- field and game-used Mets memorabilia and collectibles in 2007. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, joined by New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly made the announcement Wednesday.
In addition to the theft charges involving game used memorabilia and autographed jerseys, bats and baseballs, Samuels is also charged with embezzling $24,955 from the Mets organization by submitting inflated expense claims above the total cost for meals provided to umpires during the playing season, and with failing to report or pay taxes on a total of $203,789 that he had received as gratuities and dues from Mets players and others in 2008 and 2009.
“Seemingly gone are the days of a small child standing outside of a stadium after a game holding a pen and a baseball, eagerly hoping to get his favorite player’s signature,” said Brown. “The autographed sports memorabilia and collectibles industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry and this case exposes its darker side –the enthusiast who does not collect for personal enjoyment but rather stockpiles hundreds of pieces of sports memorabilia as a long-term investment.”
The District Attorney continued, “In this instance, the defendant was a trusted employee of the New York Mets who is alleged to have taken advantage of his position to amass a sports memorabilia collection worth almost $2.3 million at the expense of his employer. On top of that he is accused of having padded his umpire room expense account and failing to pay City and State taxes on more than $203,000 he had received from players and others as clubhouse dues and gratuities. In sum, the defendant had a dream job that any Mets fan would die for – and he blew it. His greed is alleged to have gotten the better of him.”
Commissioner Kelly said, “This is a case of the equipment manager leading the National League in steals. By padding invoices, misappropriating player uniforms and stealing autographed memorabilia, Samuels managed to rip off the Mets organization of more than $2 million dollars. I commend the NYPD’s Organized Crime Investigation Division and the Queens D.A.’s Office for their fine work, and Major League Baseball and its investigators for their assistance and cooperation throughout this investigation.”
Samuels, 53, 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 fired by the team last November. Samuels surrendered Wednesday morning to detectives assigned to the Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigation Division.
Samuels is presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Supreme Court in Kew Gardens on a 21-count indictment charging him with one count of first-degree criminal possession of stolen property, one count of third-degree grand larceny, eleven counts of first-degree falsifying business records, two counts of third-degree criminal tax fraud, four counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and two violations of New York City Administrative Code §11-4004 – false returns or reports (for corporate New York City tax return filed in 2009) and fourth-degree city criminal tax fraud (for corporate New York City tax return filed in 2010). If convicted of the top charge, he faces up to eight and one-third years to 25 years in prison.
Samuels is charged with stockpiling hundreds of autographed and unsigned New York Mets jerseys, baseballs, bats, helmets and other equipment between September 1, 2007, and November 13, 2007, that had been stolen from the team and which had an appraised value of $2,282,265. The Mets property was allegedly recovered in November 2010 from the basement of a Madison, Connecticut, house belonging to a friend of Samuels.
According to Brown, Samuels had acquired 507 autographed and unsigned jerseys, 304 hats, 828 bats, 22 batting helmets and ten equipment bags.
Samuels has not been charged with selling any of the memorabilia. He planned to do so after his retirement, according to police. Samuels’ attorney claimed the Mets had given him the OK to keep the items and said the value of the memorabilia had been overstated.
It is further alleged that one of Samuels’ clubhouse responsibilities included signing off on meal expenses submitted to him by the umpire room manager. In that instance, Samuels is accused of inflating actual umpire meal expenses by falsely listing additional food expenses on umpire room catering forms when he (Samuels) submitted his clubhouse expenses to the assistant general manager. As a result, it is alleged that Samuels fraudulently received $24,955 in reimbursement from 2007 through 2010.
Samuels is also accused of failing to report the umpire room funds that he had received, and under reported the true amount of the dues and gratuities that he had received from ball players and others, by a total of $203,789 on his 2008 and 2009 New York State tax returns in order to avoid a tax liability of approximately $23,859 for those years. It is similarly alleged that Samuels’ corporation, Chazmule, Inc., under reported its gross income on its 2008 and 2009 New York City tax returns by $87,859 and $103,450, respectively, in order to avoid a tax liability of approximately $6,947 and $8,587, respectively, for those years.
Samuels was released on $75,000 bail.