It was an amazin' haul of New York Mets memorabilia that the baseball team's former clubhouse manager amassed. Too bad Charlie Samuels' collection techniques were illegal.
While the MLB club for which he worked most of his adult life was working out on a Florida spring training field, Samuels was in a Queens court admitting that he cashed in on millions of dollars worth of signed team hats, jerseys and other souvenirs that he stole.
Samuels was charged with stealing 507 jerseys, 828 bats, 304 hats, 22 batting helmets and 10 equipment bags. The items, valued at almost $2.3 million, were found in a friend's basement in Madison, Conn.
By pleading guilty to two counts of criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of tax fraud, including nonpayment of New York City and Empire State sales taxes, Samuels avoided jail.
However, the Mets organization, which fired Samuels after an audit found he wrote checks from the team to cover his personal expenses, also have banned him for life from CitiField and the team's spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
For a baseball fan, that's probably a much worse punishment than the five years probation and $50,000 he has to pay in back taxes and restitution to the team.
Photo of original Mr. Met head (on display at the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum at CitiField in New York City) courtesy Creative Commons.
You also might find these items of interest: