Janitor sentenced to prison in theft of World Series ring

Posted: September 30, 2010

Anthony Mobley walked a straight path for eight years when he got out of prison in 2001 after spending most of his adult life behind bars for a 1974 teenage gang murder.

He got a job for a janitorial service company and became such a model employee that his picture hung in the company offices as an example for new hires.

Then he spotted that World Series ring - a sparkling 100-diamond-studded hunk of temptation - left behind Aug. 31, 2009, in a lavatory stall he was cleaning in the executive offices at Citizens Bank Park.

On Wednesday, a Philadelphia judge told Mobley, 54, that he was heading back to prison for three to 23 months for giving in to temptation and taking, however briefly, the $10,500 trophy from the Phillies' 2008 championship.

"I take full responsibility for what I have done and I apologize," Mobley told Common Pleas Court Judge Adam Beloff.

"Wasn't keeping your freedom enough to keep you honest?" asked Beloff, who said he was puzzled why a man who spent so many years in prison would risk going back for a bauble.

Beloff also ordered Mobley, of the city's Ogontz section, to get job training while he was in jail and sentenced Mobley to four years of reporting probation when he gets out.

It could have been worse. Assistant District Attorney A.J. Nardozzi asked for a state guidelines sentence of 24 to 36 months, citing Mobley's prior convictions in the 1974 stabbing by three teens of a North Philadelphia man during a busy year of teen gang violence, and an armed robbery Mobley committed when he was briefly paroled in 1983.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Azzarano urged probation so that Mobley could continue working and help his family. Ten relatives joined Mobley's wife, Valerie, in court to support him, and others submitted letters.

Azzarano said the fact that Mobley confessed when confronted by detectives three days later and showed them where at the stadium he stashed the ring "was a sign of maturity and some remorse."

The ring was not damaged and was returned to the victim, Phillies publicity director John Brazer. Brazer did not testify at the sentencing.

Azzarano added that Mobley waived all pretrial proceedings so prosecutors did not waste money calling witnesses to testify.

Mobley's was not the only arrest last year involving the theft of Phillies rings. On Oct. 9, police arrested Matthew Mervine, 23, of Berlin, in South Jersey, and charged him with stealing three $1,100 replicas of World Series rings from the Phillies executive offices.

Mervine and two friends were ejected from the stadium for bad behavior during the game of Oct. 8. On his way out, Mervine wandered into the front offices and swiped a manila envelope containing three replicas of the diamond-encrusted players' rings, which are given to Phillies employees.

Like Mobley before him, Mervine was identified as the likely suspect because he was caught on surveillance cameras at the time of the theft.

Mervine pleaded guilty to theft and was sentenced May 6 - also by Judge Beloff - to five years' probation.

Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or jslobodzian@phillynews.com.

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