Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Fan fined $1,000, ordered away from Shea Stadium
ESPN.com news services
A Mets fan who impersonated a reporter last season was fined $1,000 on Tuesday and ordered to stay away from Mets home games for the next three years.
Ryan Leli, 18, was also ordered to stay away from Brooklyn Cyclones games, a Mets' minor-league franchise, and the Mets' spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Leli forged a press pass to get into the visiting clubhouse last season in order to interview Mike Piazza, the former Mets catcher who played for the Padres in 2006. Leli's questions and request for a picture with Piazza got him ejected from the clubhouse.
He was arrested a week later when he tried to use the pass to enter the press entrance for a game against the Rockies.
Leli originally faced up to 7½ years in prison for multiple charges, but pled guilty to a lesser charge, second-degree criminal impersonation.
"This is a message to anyone who thinks they can impersonate a press person and sneak in," Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said, according to The New York Times. "We take this seriously and if anybody else tries it, they'll get the same result."
Despite his punishment, Leli said he's still a Mets fan, according to The Times. He said he just wanted to meet Piazza.
"He's always been my hero, and I just wanted to meet him," Leli said, according to The Times.
Leli also remained confident in his press-pass making ability. He examined a reporter's credentials in court Tuesday and according to The Times said: "Not bad, but mine was better."