NEW YORK -- A California man pleaded guilty in a Manhattan federal courtroom Thursday to trying to sell a baseball glove he falsely claimed was once owned by Yankees legend Babe Ruth for $200,000.
"I sold a baseball glove and falsely claimed it was Babe Ruth’s," Irving Scheib, 50, told U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson. "I feel horrible about it, Your Honor, but those are the facts."
Scheib bought an authentic 19th century baseball glove on eBay for $750, then turned around and tried to resell it for $200,000, starting in January. To entice buyers, Scheib wrote a fake handwritten note he said was from Ruth and concocted an elaborate story about the glove that made it appear to have been one of the Bambino's treasured possessions.
Ruth "was so affectionate towards this glove that he slept with it under his pillow at the orphanage," Scheib wrote in a letter to a Las Vegas sports memorabilia dealer. Scheib told the broker that Ruth gave the glove to the deceased Hollywood actor Robert Young -- whom Scheib is really related to by marriage -- in the 1940s.
When Scheib refused to notarize one of the letters making these false claims with his and his wife's signature, an interested buyer returned the glove. Scheib then tried the same scheme -- but this time with an undercover investigator for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan. Scheib surrendered Thursday in court.
Scheib was forlorn as he left the court with his attorney, both of whom flew to New York from California for the proceeding. When asked to comment, Scheib looked at his lawyer, who shook her head, and said nothing.
Scheib was released on $50,000 bail and was restricted to parts of New York and the southern district of California pending sentencing. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for one count of wire fraud when he is sentenced in October. In a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office, prosecutors said they would not ask Justice Roberts to sentence Scheib more than a prison term of 15-27 months, though the final decision is up to the judge.
"Irving Scheib wove a fantastical tale in an attempt to exploit the iconic status of a legendary figure in the world of baseball, Babe Ruth, to make a quick buck," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.
This article has been updated to include the stipulated guidelines sentence Scheib is likely to receive, 15-27 months, though the maximum sentence is 20 years.