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November 2010


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Baseball’s New Blackeye: Feds Indict Ex-Chicago White Sox Executive and 2 Former Scouts in Kickback Scheme

By Allan Lengel

Baseball has periodically gotten a black eye from one scandal or another. Here comes another.

A federal grand jury in Chicago  on Wednesday indicted a former professional baseball player scouting executive for the Chicago White Sox and two former scouts for the team in Latin America for allegedly accepting kickbacks totaling about $400,000 from signing bonuses and contract buyouts to secure 23 prospective players between December 2004 and February 2008.

Authorities alleged in a seven-count indictment that the White Sox team was defrauded of money and honest services from the defendants, who concealed the kickbacks from the team and its more senior officials.

Those charged included: David S. Wilder, the White Sox farm system director from late 2003 to 2006, who went on to become the team’s senior director of player personnel until May 2008; Jorge L. Oquendo Rivera, the White Sox Latin American scout between November 2004 and October 2007 and Victor Mateo, a White Sox scout in the Dominican Republic between November 2006 and May 2008.

“The defendants were supposed to recruit players by paying amounts of money that matched their skills and were no greater than the amount needed to sign the players,” said Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. “Instead, the indictment alleges that the defendants secretly inflated those signing amounts to fund kickbacks for themselves.”

Robert Grant, head of the Chicago FBI added: “These defendants allegedly defrauded their employer and enriched themselves by taking advantage of vulnerable ballplayers, who were anxious to pursue their dreams of stardom in the major leagues.”

Authorities said the investigation began after the Chicago White Sox reported internal findings to Major League Baseball and baseball officials, who contacted federal authorities. Both the White Sox and Major League Baseball cooperated with the investigation.

Authorities said that Wilder, Oquendo and Mateo, in order to get the kickbacks “allegedly misrepresented to the White Sox the amount of money necessary to sign certain players and omitted information about the payments, causing the team to pay artificially and fraudulently inflated signing bonuses to players and causing the team to purchase the contracts of and rights to players from other teams at artificially and fraudulently inflated prices.”

The men then allegedly took a cut of the money.

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