BAKERSFIELD — Major League Baseball has apparently launched an independent investigation into charges that National League umpire Bob Engel shoplifted baseball cards, a newspaper reported today.
Frank E. Clatanoff, a private investigator who said he represented the baseball organization, on Wednesday made photocopies of court documents and interviewed an acquaintance of Engel's, the Bakersfield Californian reported.
Engel, 56, has denied misdemeanor counts of shoplifting 4,180 Score baseball cards worth $143.98 from a Target store on April 21 and attempting to steal 50 packs of baseball cards from a Costco Warehouse in January.
Clatanoff, who works for Business Risks International of Newport Beach, declined to answer questions about the league's investigation, as did National League officials in New York.
"All I can tell you is we are monitoring the situation," said Katy Feeney, a National League spokeswoman. Feeney refused to say how any information from an investigator would be used.
The Californian said Clatanoff also questioned Ken Gladden, a baseball card store owner who said he sometimes asked Engel to get players to autograph their cards. Gladden said Clatanoff "wanted to know if I had any personal contact with Bob Engel and if I could shed any light on his actions."
The league suspended Engel from the $100,000 a year job after the initial charges were filed April 24.