Sports memorabilia kingpin Bill Mastro pleads guilty to mail fraud
CHICAGO – Several news bureaus are reporting that William Mastro, the auction house owner charged with deceptively altering a rare Honus Wagner baseball card he later sold at a great profit, has pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud.
A once-powerful figure in the sports memorabilia world, Mastro was accused of trimming the Wagner card to render the appearance of a perfectly preserved cigarette card, thereby increasing its value. The card subsequently resold in a series of transactions to high-profile individuals, including hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky, who paid $451,000 for the card in 1991. Most recently, the card now known as the Gretsky T-206 sold for $2.8 million to Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick.
Mastro, 60, originally pleaded not guilty after a federal grand jury handed down a multiple-count indictment in July. Today, his plea was changed to guilty plea and accepted by Judge Ronald A. Guzman in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Although prosecutors said they would not seek a sentence in excess of 2 1/2 years, Mastro could still end up serving up to five years in prison, should the judge decide to overrule prosecutors.
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