ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Former New York Mets clubhouse manager Charles Samuels, who often traveled with the team to spring training in Port St. Lucie, pleaded guilty earlier this week in Queens, N.Y. to charges of tax fraud and illegal possession of $2.3 million in autographed team jerseys, bats and other collectibles.
About $500,000 in some of the New York Mets' property was found in a storage unit in St. Lucie West.
Samuels, 55, started working for the team in 1976 and was fired in November 2010.
During May 2011 he was arrested based on a New York City Police Department investigation in which the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office participated. At the request of the police department, sheriff's Detective Andrew Bolonka searched the storage unit at Security Self Storage in the 500 block of N.W. Business Center Drive in St. Lucie West.
It contained 4,952 Mets team jerseys in 124 boxes, as well as two boxes containing 24 baseball bats belonging to Mets player Mike Piazza. New York detectives took the property back to New York as part of the investigation.
Also about $2.2 million in Mets property was seized from the basement of a home in Connecticut that belonged to one of Samuels' friends, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Samuels "had a dream job that any Mets fan would die for and he blew up," said District Attorney Richard A. Brown in a news release. "He allowed his greed to get the best of him."
The plea is part of a plea deal that could result in probation for five years. Samuels is banned from the team's spring-training complex in Port St. Lucie, as well as from Citi Field in Queens, the New York Mets' minor league park in Brooklyn.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 16 in Queens Superior Court in New York, according to the Queens County District Attorney's office.