Posts Tagged ‘New York Mets’

Not So Amazin’

February 21st, 2012 1 comment

Bad news all around for the New York Mets organization today. For better or for worse, the items are off the field matters.

Kathy Kmonicek/AP

The first piece relates to the suit brought against Mets owners Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon by Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee of assets seized from Bernie Madoff. (If you don’t know who Bernie Madoff is, read this.) The New York Times reports that Picard is asserting Katz and Wilpon depended on ten to fourteen percent returns in “profit” from their investments with Madoff.

Depended on how, you ask? The expected returns were budgeted into the business plan for the team, apparently. Katz and Wilpon allegedly invested revenue from ticket sales, concessions, and other sources with Madoff to generate the returns. In addition, the team structured some player salary payouts well into the future so the team could first re-invest the money. For example, Bobby Bonilla, who played for the Mets from 1992 to 1995 and in 1999, is currently collecting an annual salary of $1,193,248.20 from the Mets until 2035.

Irving Picard, representing the victims of the Madoff ponzi scheme, filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Katz and Wilpon, claiming that the owners fraudulently earned profits through their investments with Madoff. Nine of the eleven charges were dismissed last September, and the trial for the remaining two is expected to begin March 19 in federal court in Manhattan.

Now to the second piece. Charlie Samuels served the Mets organization for more than thirty years, and was the team’s clubhouse manager for many of them. Last May, he was arrested on charges alleging he stole nearly $2.3 million worth of team equipment and memorabilia. The indictment included twenty-one charges in all.

Earlier today, Mr. Samuels pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property in Queens County Supreme Court as part of a plea agreement. He also pleaded guilty to criminal tax fraud charges relating to his failure to pay New York State income tax on the items he stole. Samuels is expected to receive five years probation when sentenced on April 16.

Put together, these stories paint a picture of deceit from various angles. Not the best way to motivate a team that finished 77-85 last year.

In sports, winning is the ultimate remedy for a team’s problems. A typical cynical Mets fan, I don’t expect the team to mitigate these damaging off the field issues with on the field play this upcoming season. Since Linsanity is possible, though, I’ll believe in the Metropolitans while we inch closer towards 2012 Opening Day.

Strawberry: Struggling to Find His Way with the IRS

January 17th, 2012 No comments

Playing for the New York Mets in 1986, Darryl Strawberry hit 27 home runs, drove in 93 runners, and stole 28 bases during the regular season. The team captured its second World Series title later that year. Strawberry continued his success on the field for years to come, making eight All-Star team appearances in all.

But it hasn’t been all smiles for Strawberry, creating his fair share of bad noise off the field. As reported by Forbes, his most recent troubles involve back taxes owed to the IRS.

via Wikipedia

In 2009, Strawberry published an autobiography entitled Straw: Finding My Way. According to the book description, Darryl reflects upon various challenges he faced over the years, including tax evasion, drug use, solicitation, and allegations of domestic assault. Apparently, his life took a favorably dramatic turnaround in 2006 after marrying his third wife and rediscovering God.

Of course, we hope Strawberry continues on his redirected course. The IRS, however, continues to pursue him, and now his current wife is in the mix. The IRS recently issued a third-party levy to HarperCollins Publishers, his book’s publisher, and received around $50,000 in order to collect on Strawberry’s back taxes. Last week, Strawberry’s wife Terry filed a suit claiming the IRS wrongly obtained the funds.

HarperCollins is paying Straw Marketing, LLC pursuant to a contract for Strawberry’s book. Mrs. Strawberry is the President of Straw Marketing. Her argument is that Darryl had no claim to the funds paid to Straw Marketing, so the third-party levy to collect on his back taxes was invalid. Unsurprisingly, the IRS disagrees, asserting that Terry and Straw Marketing are merely nominees receiving the funds on Darryl’s behalf.

Whatever the suit’s outcome, Darryl will eventually have to settle up with the IRS. Janet Novak explains how his tax troubles began:

Strawberry, 49, has been plagued by tax troubles for decades. In 1994 he was indicted for failing to report hundreds of thousands of income from autograph and baseball memorabilia shows and other personal appearances in 1986 through 1990. The next year he pleaded guilty to a single tax charge and was sentenced to six months home confinement and three years probation. A Notice of Levy the IRS sent to Harper Collins last August indicates that as of June 30th, 2010, Strawberry still owed $405,522 in back taxes, penalties and interest for 1989 and 1990. A separate notice of federal tax lien filed in a Florida court case involving the Mets,  shows that as of July 2011, he also owed $53,817 in unpaid taxes from 2003 and 2004.

There are various collection alternatives to address one’s outstanding IRS liabilities. From my experience, a cooperating taxpayer is far more likely to land a manageable payment agreement. As for Strawberry, it appears he can’t lay off the curveballs.

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