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6
3 YEARS

Investors Sue After Putting Up Money for Movie About New York Yankees

Investors question the reality of 'Keeper of the Pinstripes," set to star Josh Lucas.

The New York Yankees
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Thursday was opening day for Major League Baseball, but not all is cheery for America's pastime. A group of movie investors have filed a lawsuit, claiming they were defrauded out of $565,000 on a film that was to be called Keeper of the Pinstripes, about the New York Yankees and the team's relationship with their old stadium, famously abandoned in 2009.

The film purported to star Josh Lucas as Thurman Munson and was to show Yankees legends Munson and Lou Gehrig retreating to Room 107, a mysterious room hidden in the depths of the old stadium where baseball players would go to find solace. A casting call promised that the film would be ready in time for baseball's opening day in 2010.

It obviously wasn't. And now, a new lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court raises questions about whether this film was ever real.

The plaintiffs in the case are investment groups -- KOTP I and KOTP II -- who say that in 2009, they each put up $125,000 for certain rights to the film.

They allegedly dealt with an entitity called Keeper DE, formed for the purpose of financing, producing, distributing and selling the feature film.

The plaintiffs say that defendants Joshua Newman and Alfred Zaccagnino also formed another entitity, Keeper NY, which according to the lawsuit, was formed to divert funds from Keeper DE and "to undermine any legitimate business efforts aimed at making the Film."

Later, the defendants, including producers Newman, Zaccagnino, and Alexander Burns, purportedly told the plaintiffs that they had raised more than $1.5 million in additional money, which under the agreement, meant that KOTP I and KOTP II would each put up an additional $125,000 each. Additionally, the groups say they invested an additional sum of $65,000 as a bridge loan.

Now, the Keeper of the Pinstripes film is listed on iMDb, but with little information. And the plaintiffs are suing for comingling funds into their various bank accounts, failing to refund money and pay back the loan, failing to diligently pursue further investments to actually make the film, and failing to maintain corporate books and financial records.

UPDATE: Newman responded by pointing out an article from last May where James Pappas was indicted in a fraud. In KOTP's lawsuit, an individual named James Pappas represented himself to be the president of the KOTP investment group. Newman says the guy indicted for fraud is the same one now suing him for perpetrating a fraud and the defendant adds this comment:

"I understand that James is likely now short on cash, which might motivate this lawsuit.  And, having lost an even larger amount on the film personally (when production fell apart a few weeks after beginning due to MLB licensing issues), I certainly feel his pain."

UPDATE II: In October 2012, papers were filed in court that released Zaccagnino from claims. According to his reps, "The litigation was not only settled but it was settled to Samarian's favor as the allegations that were foundational to the filing were just not factually correct." The papers filed in court indicated that the litigation continued against Newman.

A few years ago, the YES Network also had a preview of the Keeper of the Pinstripes. Here it is:

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner