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Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Steinbrenner, Yankees issued subpoenas

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- George Steinbrenner and other top Yankees' executives were subpoenaed by a New York state commission investigating the team's distribution of free tickets to public officials.

Subpoenas were issued Tuesday to the Yankees president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost, according to documents reviewed Wednesday by The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The subpoenas direct the three Yankees executives to turn over records on complimentary tickets for the 2002 and 2003 regular season and playoffs by Jan. 14. The three executives were also ordered to appear at the commission's Albany offices on Jan. 21 to give closed-door depositions about the free tickets.

The team's Albany lawyer, Clemente Parente, has filed free ticket information with the commission for 2002 and for the VIPs who got complimentary tickets for last year's home opener.

According to Lobbying Commission records in the case, Parente promised in an Oct. 23 letter that free ticket information for the three postseason series the Yankees played in 2003 would be produced within two weeks. But no more details have since been provided by the team, commission officials said, prompting the subpoenas.

The subpoenas were first reported Wednesday by the New York Daily News.

"The Yankees have not engaged in any lobbying," Yankees spokesman Howard Rubenstein said.

None of the Yankees officials have been served with the subpoenas, Levine said.

Under state laws, companies and individuals have to report all gifts to public officials worth $75 or more. The commission can levy fines of up to $100,000 for the filing of incomplete or inaccurate information on lobbying expenses.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller were among the public officials who accepted free tickets to 2002 Yankee playoff games. Bloomberg told all city officials this fall not to accept free tickets to Yankees and Mets games except for opening day.

Opening day has traditionally been considered a ceremonial affair, when teams issue complimentary tickets to many public officials.

Commission officials declined comment on the investigation.