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Ex-Mets Clubhouse Manager Charged in Memorabilia Case

Former New York Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was charged with criminal possession of almost $2.3 million worth of Mets memorabilia, including autographed jerseys, bats and baseballs.

Samuels, who spent 27 seasons with the Major League Baseball team, is also accused of embezzling $24,955 from the Mets by inflating expense claims for meals provided to umpires, and with failing to report or pay taxes on $203,789 in income from gratuities and dues from Mets players and others in 2008 and 2009, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. Samuels was fired in November for “conduct in violation of club policies,” the team said at the time.

“The autographed sports memorabilia and collectibles industry has become a multibillion 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,” Brown said in a statement.

Samuels was arraigned today before Queens state Supreme Court Justice Fernando M. Camacho, Brown said. He is charged with criminal possession of stolen property, grand larceny, falsifying business records and criminal tax fraud, among other crimes. If convicted of the top charge, he faces as long as 25 years in prison.

Samuels was released on $75,000 bail. His next court date is June 17.

Jerseys, Bats

The $2.3 million in Mets jerseys, bats, helmets and other equipment Samuels is charged with criminally possessing was recovered in November from the basement of a Madison, Connecticut, house belonging to a friend of Samuels, Brown said.

Samuels also padded expenses when he signed off on meal charges submitted to him by the umpire room manager, Brown said, by listing additional food expenses on catering forms when he submitted his clubhouse expenses. As a result, Samuels fraudulently received $24,955 in reimbursement between 2007 and 2010, Brown said in his statement.

Samuels also under-reported dues and gratuities he received from ballplayers and others by $203,789 in 2008 and 2009 to avoid tax liability of about $23,859 for those years, the statement said. Samuels’ company, Chazmule Inc., also under-reported its gross income on New York City tax returns by $87,859 in 2008 and $103,450 in 2009 to avoid tax liabilities of $6,947 and $8,587 respectively.

“I haven’t had a chance to review the indictment,” Michael Bachner, an attorney for Samuels, said in a telephone interview, declining to comment.

“We cooperated fully with the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney’s office in their lengthy and thorough criminal investigation,” Jay Horwitz, a Mets spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “As this is a pending criminal matter, we will have no further comment.”

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