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California Man Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court for Scheme to Sell a Fake Babe Ruth Baseball Glove for $200,000

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 20, 2012
  • Southern District of New York (212) 637-2600

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Irving Scheib was sentenced today to two years of probation for trying to sell a 19th century baseball glove for $200,000 that he falsely claimed was owned by Babe Ruth. Scheib was also ordered to refrain from selling any memorabilia while on probation. Scheib pled guilty to one count of wire fraud on June 28, 2012. U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson imposed today’s sentence.

According to the complaint and information filed in Manhattan federal court, as well as statements made during court proceedings:

On January 12, 2012, Irving Scheib purchased a 19th century baseball glove on eBay for $750, which was described as an “1890’s Full Web Workman Baseball Mitt.” At the time he bought the glove, Scheib knew that the glove had no connection to Babe Ruth.

Shortly after purchasing the glove on eBay, Scheib set out to resell the glove by fraudulently claiming that it was used by baseball legend Babe Ruth. Among other things, Scheib fraudulently told a sports memorabilia broker in Nevada that the glove was a family heirloom that was obtained directly from Babe Ruth. Specifically, Scheib claimed that the deceased Hollywood actor, Robert Young, to whom Scheib is related by marriage, obtained the glove from Ruth. Scheib also sent fake documents to the memorabilia dealer corroborating this fabricated provenance, and falsely claimed in a letter that the glove “was gifted to Babe Ruth’s personal friend and Golden Era Star Robert Young in 1944...[and that Ruth] was so affectionate towards this glove that he slept with it under his pillow at the orphanage.” These fake documents, in turn, were sent to an individual interested in purchasing the glove (the buyer). After paying for the glove, the buyer asked Scheib to notarize one of the letters attesting to the glove’s provenance that was signed by Scheib and purportedly signed by Scheib’s wife, who is Young’s granddaughter. Scheib refused to do so, and the buyer accordingly returned the glove.

Subsequently, Scheib repeated the same fabricated provenance for the alleged Babe Ruth glove over the telephone to someone he believed was another potential buyer in New York. In fact, the buyer was an undercover investigator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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In addition to probation, Scheib, 50, of Bonsall, California, was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine. He also agreed to forfeit the glove to the United States.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason P. Hernandez is in charge of the prosecution.

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