Raymond W. Kelly, today announced that longtime New York Mets clubhouse manager Charles Samuels has been indicted on charges that he criminally possessed almost $2.3 million worth of onfield and game-used Mets memorabilia and collectibles – including autographed jerseys, bats and baseballs – belonging to the Mets organization.

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.

District Attorney Brown said, “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. 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 greedis 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.”

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox said, “We are pleased to work with Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown and his staff and I commend him for this prosecution and his continued focus on economic crime. Taxpayers can rely on the Department to work closely with local law enforcement to aggressively pursue violations of
state tax laws. Under-reporting of income deprives the state of tax revenue that helps to support essential state services such as education and transportation, and it is unfair to hard working New Yorkers who are honest in meeting their obligations.”

New York City Department of Finance Commissioner David M. Frankel said, “Falsifying tax returns in an effort to avoid paying what you owe is illegal and puts the burden of paying for government on the people who play by the rules. I’d like to thank Queens District Attorney Brown and his staff for their commitment to this issue and for their vigorous prosecution of this case.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Charles Samuels, 53, of Arverne, Queens. Samuels, who began his career with the New York Mets in 1976, was made equipment manager in 1983 and subsequently became the clubhouse manager and traveling secretary. He was terminated last November. Samuels surrendered this 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.

District Attorney Brown said that, according to the charges, Samuels knowingly possessed 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 Sterling Mets, L.P. (which does business as the New York Mets) 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. 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, it is alleged Samuels inflated 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.

Finally, it is alleged that Samuels failed 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. The District Attorney expressed his appreciation to the New York Mets organization, Major League Baseball’s Department of Investigations, Detective Andrew Bolonka of the Office of Port St. Lucie (Florida) Sheriff Ken J. Mascara, New York City Department of Finance Commissioner Frankel and his staff, and New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Thomas H. Mattox and his staff for their assistance and cooperation during the investigation.

The investigation was conducted by Detective Gerard McNally and Sergeant James Baratta, of the New York City Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigation Division, under the supervision of Lieutenant Christopher Fasano, Captain John A. Dusanenko and Inspector Brian O’Neill, and under the overall supervision of Chief Anthony Izzo, of the Organized Crime Control Bureau, and by Forensic Accountant James J. Dever, who is assigned to the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau, and Financial Analysts Andrew W. Risi and Mathew D. Scavetta, of the District Attorney’s Special Proceedings Bureau. Assistant District Attorney Christine M. Maloney, of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau, is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Bureau Chief, and Mark L. Katz, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.

It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.