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Promoter Admits He Bilked Sports Figures

April 02, 1992|PHIL SNEIDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PASADENA — Promoter Paul Howard Hammack has pleaded guilty or no-contest to charges that he wrote bad checks to such sports celebrities as Mickey Mantle and failed to pay other bills during a 1990 sports memorabilia event he put on at the Pasadena Center.

Under the plea agreement involving 19 felony counts and one misdemeanor, Pasadena Superior Court Judge J. Michael Byrne last Friday said he would sentence Hammack, 44, to four years in state prison. Hammack pleaded guilty to 11 counts and no contest to nine, including the misdemeanor.

Hammack, who called himself Ernest Dent while organizing the Pasadena show, also agreed to pay back the celebrities and vendors who lost more than $100,000, Deputy Dist. Atty. Nancy Naftel said.

Investigators alleged that Hammack wrote bad checks to such baseball stars as Mantle, Ernie Banks, Don Drysdale and Steve Garvey, who appeared at the Pasadena memorabilia show. He also failed to pay a hotel and the companies that provided security, travel and printing services for the show, which attracted thousands of enthusiasts, authorities said.

At the time of the show, Hammack lived in Glendale and operated a now-defunct Glendale memorabilia business called Baseball Legends.

If convicted after a trial, Hammack faced a maximum eight-year prison sentence. Naftel said she accepted the plea agreement after considering the expense of a trial and the difficulty of scheduling celebrity witnesses.

Hammack pleaded guilty to the 20 counts last November under an earlier agreement calling for a prison sentence of five years and eight months. But he later withdrew the plea after successfully appealing a separate eight-year sentence handed down in an unrelated federal case.

After formal sentencing by Byrne on April 27, Hammack will be turned over to federal authorities in Laredo, Tex., for retrial or to enter another plea bargain on charges that he stole $67,500 from a double-amputee through a fraud scheme in 1984.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Raul Casso said Hammack's original eight-year sentence was set aside after Hammack showed that a federal judge made a mistake in the plea agreement on that interstate fraud charge.

Hammack, who represented himself in court, could not be reached.

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