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By Murray Chass

May 2, 2013

Known in his rapper days as Prime Minister Pete Nice, Peter Nash is known today as the epitome of what is primarily wrong with the Internet and blogs. He is also known for his propensity for losing lawsuits, accusing others of fraud while defrauding others himself and, perhaps worst of all, for forcing his father to give up the prestigious academic role he had for nearly half a century in a case that at least bordered on embezzlement.

I first encountered Nash’s name and talked to him in July 2011 for a column I wrote about how he had grotesquely maligned and tried to destroy the reputation – posthumously – of Barry Halper, a limited partner of the New York Yankees, a world renowned collector of baseball memorabilia and a genuinely good person.Peter Nash

Halper, it turns out, has not been the only memorabilia figure Nash has maligned unfairly. He’s still doing it and has done it to this day. He has a pattern: beat him in a lawsuit or a business deal and expect him to write viciously nasty things about you.

That’s where the Internet and blogs come in. They give Nash a free hand to do and say what he wants about whom he wants with no way of being stopped.

Nash has a Web site, “Hauls of Shame,” which he uses to defame people. The Internet gives him that opportunity. Anybody can use the Internet for whatever purpose he wants. You don’t need a license. Just pay a few bucks a month, put a name on the site and you’re off and writing.

The blogger has no and needs no accountability. There’s no one to say, hey, you can’t say that about somebody. Some criticism is valid, but much of it isn’t; yet the blogger is free to write whatever he wants and the object of his viciousness has no recourse.

In a recent Nash blog this headline ran at the top of the page:

Operation Bambino: Probe Nabs Rob Lifson & REA Selling Pride Of The Yanks Fake

With Bogus Babe Ruth Sig & Other Ruthian Frauds Certified By JSA”

Robert Lifson, owner of Robert Edward Auctions, is a Nash target because he won a court judgment of $760,000 against Nash in 2008. More recently Robert Fraser won a judgment of $442,000.

In that April 28 blog, Nash wrote about Bill Mastro, who awaits sentencing on a memorabilia fraud conviction. He referred to Lifson as Mastros “ex-partner and the alleged government informant who dropped dime on him.”

Lifson, Nash added, “is still operating his auction business” and “continuing his sales of fraudulent and counterfeit items, one of which is an item Mastro once owned and quite possibly shill bid back when he and Lifson were buddies and business partners.”

Contrary to Nash’s claim and to my knowledge, Lifson has never been accused of selling fraudulent and counterfeit items. Typical of Nash, though, he seems to make accusations against others that he himself is charged with.

I asked Lifson about Nash’s allegations.

“I was a minority owner and employee of MastroNet from 2000 to 2002,” he replied by e-mail “He knows nothing of me being a ‘government informant.’ Virtually all if not all of their crimes in the indictment occurred long after I left MastroNet so that speaks for itself. I have worked for the government, have been hired as an expert by the government, and have testified in court for them as an expert. I always do everything I can to be a good citizen and did not even want to be paid. They insisted!”

Lifson also offered an explanation for Nash’s use of “Operation Bambino,” saying it was “Nash’s name for his own reporting on Babe Ruth’s signatures and forgeries. He makes it sound official by giving it a name that sounds similar to the Federal Government’s Operation Bullpen investigation and prosecutions of criminal forgers many years ago.

“It’s just him. He can say he doesn’t agree with the authentication of an autograph and then write that I’ve been ‘nabbed’ by his investigation. I know it sounds crazy. But that’s what it is.”

“He’s not a journalist,” Lifson added. “He’s a guy with a vendetta.”

Repeated efforts to reach Nash for comment were unsuccessful. Calls to his telephone were greeted with an automated response: “The mail box is full and cannot accept any messages at this time.”

The biggest mystery about Nash’s operation is how he has eluded criminal charges. Obviously, no one who might have had reason or grounds to file a complaint has chosen to do so.

The Brooklyn, N.Y., district attorney didn’t even initiate charges against Nash’s father after a 2008 audit found that he had helped himself to $52,551 from a development fund at Brooklyn’s Bishop Ford Central Catholic High School

Ray Nash, who had been president of the school since 2001, resigned in June 2012, ending a 48-year association with the school. The D.A. said his investigation found no evidence of criminal intent, as if secretly taking someone else’s money without permission doesn’t represent criminal intent.

What was the elder Nash’s intent in taking the money? He took it to give to his son so he could avoid foreclosure on his Cooperstown, N.Y., home.

People have gone to jail for taking less than $50,000 that didn’t belong to them. It’s called theft or embezzlement, but Ray Nash very likely escaped prosecution because of his prominence in the community. Had the father been prosecuted, it was likely that the son also would have been as the recipient of the appropriated money.

The Nashes created the problem, but Bishop Ford shared in it.

“When they got caught taking money unauthorized, Nash took memorabilia and got a loan against the memorabilia,” Lifson related. “He sold or pawned this memorabilia, and the school took the proceeds of the memorabilia.”

However, Lifson said, the memorabilia belonged not to Nash but to him, and Lifson sued the school for the money. “We settled,” he said. “They gave me all the money, $53,000.”

Peter Nash, meanwhile, has remained beyond reach of the authorities. He didn’t even get the attention of the Internal Revenue Service when he admitted in an affidavit in Lifson’s lawsuit against him that he didn’t file tax returns for five years (2005-09).

He admitted the failure to file returns when the judge in the Lifson suit held him in contempt of court for not giving Lifson, as ordered, copies of his returns.

Nash, though, has been free to face additional lawsuits. If he had ever done anything to deserve the label of prominent, he might have been able to gather the papers from all of the lawsuits and publish them as the Collected Lawsuits of Peter Nash. Sounds like a collector’s item to me.

Nash could have included a chapter on how to avoid paying judgments. Lifson said that Nash was down to owing him about $200,000 from $760,000 plus interest. Much of the money has come from the proceeds of Nash’s 15 percent ownership in a Boston bar (good for about $45,000 a year).

Fraser said he has yet to receive the first dollar from the $442,000 (plus interest) judgment he has against Nash.

“The judgment was for fraud,” Fraser said in an e-mail, “so he can’t file bankruptcy on us to get rid of the judgment. None of my judgment has been paid except for 5 items that were returned to us by Peter Nash’s former attorney. These five items were stolen from us by Peter Nash….Nash still owes me 2 other stolen items, 1912 Red Sox Diamond Stickpin and 1868 Albumen Photo of Brooklyn Atlantics.”

There is more, much more, in which Nash has been involved, dare I say unscrupulously. There is more memorabilia that he has had to relinquish because the items didn’t belong to him despite his claims. His won-loss record in court is nothing to boast about.

One of his biggest losses came against Fraser over ownership of a trophy that had been given to the manager of the 1912 Boston Red Sox after they won the World Series.

The judge in the case found that Nash “intentionally, willfully, maliciously, unlawfully and recklessly” disregarded Fraser’ rights and ruled that Nash was “permanently restrained and enjoined from interfering with ownership of the trophy.”

That, I would say, was putting it bluntly.

I did not start out this week to write about Peter Nash, but I received an e-mail from someone who belatedly read the column I wrote about Nash and Halper in July 2011. Curious, I asked the e-mailer how he happened to read the column nearly two years later.

He was doing some research, he explained, and found it in a Google search. The column dealt primarily with the New York Post’s outrageously unethical article about Halper written by Nash.

Halper’s son, Jason, a New Jersey lawyer, sought to get the Post to retract the article or at the least explain in a subsequent piece Nash’s background and why he might have written a derogatory article about his father. I had not heard about the outcome of Halper’s effort so I called to ask him.

“I wrote them a couple of letters,” he said. “All they did was remove the article from their Web site permanently. The last letter I got from the in-house lawyer said they had conducted an investigation, whatever that means, and all they were doing was removing the article from the Web site.”

Upon further reflection, I decided that Peter Nash and the New York Post deserve each other.

Comments? Please send email to comments@murraychass.com.