SBD/Issue 204/Leagues & Governing Bodies

MLB, FBI Investigating Nats Personnel About Financial Scandal

FBI, MLB Investigating Bowden's
Role In Financial Scandal
The FBI and MLB are investigating Nationals GM Jim Bowden and Special Assistant Jose Rijo for their "possible roles in a growing financial scandal involving the signing of players from the Dominican Republic," according to sources cited by Fainaru-Wada & Quinn of ESPN.com. Numerous MLB employees in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic are "under suspicion in the probe, which allegedly involved the skimming of signing money allocated for Dominican prospects." Sources said that "anyone implicated could face felony fraud charges." League sources said that while FBI and MLB investigators "have been speaking to numerous officials," Bowden and Rijo were "among those specifically under investigation for their suspected involvement." One MLB official said that the "investigation was 'in its infancy' and involved allegations about several teams and their employees." It is unclear whether Bowden and Rijo are "suspected of receiving money or whether they are believed to have played some other role in the scheme." Bowden said that neither the FBI nor MLB has told him that he is "suspected of taking part in the scheme or in any way suspected of wrongdoing." He added that he was "never asked about his own activities, and denied having any role in the scandal." Bowden: "We completely support trying to clean up the problems that have taken place, but there's no truth to any involvement regarding anyone here" (ESPN.com, 7/12).

SHORT-CHANGED? SI.com's Melissa Segura cited sources who said that the Nationals' '06 signing of 16-year-old Dominican SS Esmailyn Gonzalez is a "focus of the probe." Gonzalez signed for a reported $1.4M bonus, but sources estimated that Gonzalez "received a small fraction of that." But Gonzalez through a translator said that he "received the entire sum he signed for." Gonzalez: "The people I trusted didn't cheat me. They gave me all that I needed." Segura reported Bowden is the "highest-ranking baseball official currently under investigation, but all 30 teams are being examined" (SI.com, 7/12). In DC, Chico Harlan noted Bowden is the first MLB GM to "make his involvement public." Rijo, "per request, will meet with investigators when he returns from the Dominican Republic in several weeks" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13).

COOPERATING: Bowden said of his involvement in the investigation, "There's no wrongdoing. We've met with FBI investigators. There are many people throughout baseball that are going to be talking with the FBI and [MLB] trying to help get all the information out there for the problems that exist [in the Dominican Republic]. We're there to help. But at no time when I met with the FBI were the questions revolving around myself or Jose Rijo." Bowden added, "I don't want to say anything to interrupt the investigation, but we're as clean as a whistle. I guarantee you. We're as clean as Irish Spring soap" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/12). Bowden: "Myself, the entire Nationals organization, and I would assume all 29 (other) clubs are going to cooperate fully with the investigation that's going on" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/12). Nationals President Stan Kasten said, "I'm not going to talk about specific innuendos or allegations or rumors. That wouldn't be fair." Kasten declined to give details on MLB's investigation (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/13). Kasten added, "I couldn't be more supportive of the effort to make sure that everybody is living by the rules. ... We want things found out. We want things on the up and up. That's of the utmost importance to us" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13).

Dominican Newspaper Claiming Cabrera Only
Received Portion Of His Signing Bonus In '01
WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN: In N.Y., O'Keeffe, Thompson & Red cited sources who said the investigation also includes Yankees scouts. A report from Dominican newspaper El Caribe indicated that Yankees CF Melky Cabrera is "in the middle of the controversy," claiming that he "received only a portion of the reported $175,000 bonus he got in 2001 after signing as an amateur free agent." An MLB scout said that "'big names' would soon surface" as part of the probe." O'Keeffe, Thompson & Red wrote if the "suspicions are true, it could snowball into a major headache for MLB as it tries to improve the practices of signing players from talent-rich Latin America" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/13).

MORE SCOUTS IN TROUBLE: SI.com's Jon Heyman cited sources who said that the Orioles earlier this month fired scout Alan Marr after MLB's newly formed investigative unit "tied his name to sports betting." The sources added that "more scouts could soon be named as well." One MLB exec said, "A lot of people are sweating out there" (SI.com, 7/11). In Baltimore, Barker, Connolly & Kubatko cited sources who reported that the Orioles fired Marr "after seeking legal advice on how to proceed" (Baltimore SUN, 7/12).

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