The August 2006 arrest of Ryan Leli, while already mentioned in this space (“Call The Cops, Someone Is Wasting Chad Bradford™s Valuable Time”, 8/19/06), lacked any number of sexy details, as ably provided this morning by the New York Times’ Corey Kilgannon.
Mr. Leli did what any overenthusiastic Mike Piazza fan might fantasize about: He created a fake press pass that fooled Shea officials and gained access to the visiting team™s clubhouse, where Mr. Piazza (above) was being interviewed by a scrum of reporters. Mr. Leli™s line of questioning ” especially the request that Mr. Piazza pose for a photo with him ” annoyed a Padres official, who had him ejected.
Mr. Leli tried the same trick a week later, when the Mets played the Colorado Rockies. This time, he was stopped by detectives at the press entrance and arrested.
His journalistic foray took a detour to an arraignment in Queens Criminal Court, where Mr. Leli was hit with many charges, including criminal possession of a forged instrument, falsifying business records, petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal impersonation and criminal trespassing. The charges carried total penalties of up to seven years in jail.
But Mr. Leli pleaded guilty yesterday to a lesser charge, second-degree criminal impersonation, and was released ” on condition that he stay away for three years from Mets home games and from KeySpan Park in Coney Island, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league team owned by the owners of the Mets, as well as from the team™s spring training camp at Port St. Lucie, Fla. He was also fined $1,000.
In court, Mr. Leli examined a reporter™s press pass and wrinkled his nose. œNot bad, he said, œbut mine was better.
Mr. Leli, dressed in a suit and tie, walked out of the courtroom yesterday and said he still loves the Mets ” and Mr. Piazza.
œHe™s always been my hero, and I just wanted to meet him, Mr. Leli said.
His mother, Denise, interjected, œHe had no idea he was doing anything that wrong and he just wanted to hang out with Piazza and the Mets. Noting that her son had been going to Mets baseball camp since age 5, Mrs. Leli added, œWe financed his obsession with the Mets, so maybe it™s all our fault.
Mr. Leli™s lawyer, Joseph Mure, noted that his client had never been arrested before and had bought legitimate tickets for the games in question.
œThe kid™s still a Met fan and they can never take that away from him, Mr. Mure said.
Y’know, I sincerely hope that no one ever has to recite those very same words at the conclusion of my murder trial.
I’ll still maintain the above instance is a victimless crime, and barring Leli from Shea (or Keyspan for that matter, talk about overkill —- he’s gonna interupt Ramon Castro’s next rehab assignment?) is overkill. Are we to believe the young Metal Mike Pizza, if given the opportunity to hang and bang with the members of Dream Theatre by merely posing as a rock journalist (ahem), wouldn’t have done the exact same thing?