Law of Cards: Judge Rejects Bill Mastro Plea Bargain, Trial Likely

Law of Cards: Judge Rejects Bill Mastro Plea Bargain, Trial Likely

It was a difficult hearing for Bill Mastro. Today, both sides were hoping that the court would agree to a 30-month maximum sentence for his role in allegedly manipulating auctions and doctoring sports memorabilia.

The judge had other plans.

Judge Guzman had previously expressed concern over the small size of the sentence and asked the government to file a brief explaining the benefits the government received from the plea. The judge's main concern was that Mastro was not going to provide any testimony in exchange for a reduced sentence.

The government's brief was not persuasive, because today, the judge threw out the plea.

I happened to be in the courtroom today. It was brutal.

Right before the hearing started, the court's clerk brought a letter to both sides that the judge had received. It was from someone who alleged he was a previous customer of Mastro, and believed that he had been defrauded.

The judge explained that he did not know if anything in the letter could be substantiated, so he did not consider it evidence. He did think, however, it should be brought to both sides' attention.

The judge then announced he was not agreeing to the proposed plea.

The room was shocked.

After a bit, Mastro's defense attorney asked if the judge was throwing out the plea because of the letter. The judge responded, no, it was because of his previous concerns.

The judge then set some future dates, which basically tells everyone to get ready for trial.

From today's hearing, I think it's fair to assume that judge wants more, a lot more out of Mastro if a plea is going to be accepted. Given what happened today, he might not want a plea. He might want a full trial. That could send a real message to those who commit fraud in the sports memorabilia industry.

The information provided in Paul Lesko's "Law of Cards" column is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered in the sports industry. This information is not intended to create any legal relationship between Paul Lesko, the Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC or any attorney and the user. Neither the transmission nor receipt of these website materials will create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the readers.

The views expressed in the "Law of Cards" column are solely those of the author and are not affiliated with the Simmons Law Firm. You should not act or rely on any information in the "Law of Cards" column without seeking the advice of an attorney. The determination of whether you need legal services and your choice of a lawyer are very important matters that should not be based on websites or advertisements.

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Paul Lesko is a shareholder at Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides and Barnerd LLC and the chair of its Intellectual Property Department (http://www.simmonsfirm.com). Don’t hold the fact that Paul is a lawyer against him, he’s also a rabid baseball and college basketball fan, and an avid baseball card collector. Paul can be found on Twitter @Paul_Lesko and Google+.

User Comments

  1. I’m thinking with all the real crime in America and this Judge is trying to slam this man over a baseball card? Give me a break.

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