Sports agent Bart Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada have been convicted of smuggling Cuban baseball players into the United States and capitalizing on their multimillion-dollar professional contracts. Hernandez and Estrada were found guilty of 12 counts in March and had been under house arrest since their guilty verdict. Hernandez was sentenced to nearly four years in prison, while Estrada was sentenced to five years.
Both men were charged with deceiving “the U.S. government into granting visas and other documents to two dozen Cuban ballplayers,” the Miami-Herald reports. Some of the players that Hernandez and Estrada were responsible for bringing into the country include former Miami Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and Chicago Cubs outfielder Leonys Martin.
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In an attempt to get lenient sentencing for Hernandez and Estrada, lawyers for the men told the judge that their clients were simply trying to give the players a chance at the American dream. “There’s no question that he made a lot of money,” Estrada’s lawyer, Sabrina Puglisi said, according to the Miami-Herald. “But this is not a case… just about greed. Almost every player he trained he’s still in touch with today.”
Prosecutors, however, painted a completely different picture. They said Hernandez and Estrada “coerced, ripped off and threatened” some of the players and their families.
The Miami-Herald reports that during the trial, a wife of one of the players testified and said her husband “was told he would be chopped up and sent to her in a box if he fled Cancun and signed with somebody else.”
Less than a week after the unexpected passing of 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Tyler Skaggs, there is new controversy surrounding the reporting of his death. The Santa Monica Observer sparked widespread outrage when it speculated that Skaggs had died of an opioid overdose. But after receiving a wave of blowback, the California newspaper scrapped the piece and wrote an op-ed explaining why it did so. The explanation has been met with a tepid response from police and the Angels organization.
There are few details surrounding the reason behind Skagg’s death so far.
Tragedy struck the baseball world last week when Skaggs, who is of Mexican descent, was found by the Southlake Police Department unconscious in a hotel room hours before his team was about to play the Texas Rangers. Authorities pronounced the 27-year-old dead at the scene, a police press release said. But there were still many questions about how such a young promising star like Skaggs could be found like this.
Shortly after, the Santa Monica Observer reported that Skaggs may have been getting opioid prescriptions from doctors who were unaware of each other’s treatments. That report was quickly shot down by Texas police who said there was no credible information to support that Skaggs died of an overdose or suicide.
Angels spokesperson, Marie Garvey, said the report was also wrong citing that the investigation is still ongoing at this time. While an autopsy has reportedly been completed, the results of it and a toxicology report will not be released until October.
“This article is categorically incorrect,” Garvey said in a statement. “The cause of death is still under investigation as stated by the Southlake Police Department. We have tried to contact the paper to correct this story but have [been] unsuccessful in our attempts. This sort of reckless reporting from Tyler’s hometown paper is disappointing and harmful.”
The Op-Ed piece did little to clear things up as many wonder why this was published in the first place.
The op-ed, published this past Saturday, titled “Why Did We Take Down Our Original Story About The Death of a Ballplayer?” says the publication took down the story due to multiple threats. Santa Monica Observer publisher David Ganezer wrote the op-ed and defended it’s publishing. He said the newspaper’s staff received “multiple personal threats and attacks from anonymous sources,” including “a creepy text message” that was sent to a young female intern’s cellphone.
“She wasn’t frightened about it at all,” Ganezer wrote. “But I was. I’m older, much older; and I know more about how out of hand the potential pile-on is getting in this country.”
“Not simply in the form of a threat letter from lawyers Kirkland and Ellis, representing the Angels and a certain deceased ball player. And not just in the form of anonymous phone calls and emails,” Ganezer said. “No, we also received multiple personal threats and attacks from anonymous sources.
The original article was ultimately scrubbed of the opioid details but Ganezer said in his op-ed it was made clear from the author, Stan Greene, the piece was “speculation.”
This isn’t the first time the newspaper publishes “speculative information.”
The baseball world is still in mourning over the death of Skaggs and many teammates have shown their respect for their fallen teammate in various ways since last Monday. But for Skagg’s family, the last thing they want at this time is presumptive information being released about him.
According to the Santa Monica Lookout, the Observer has had previous situations where the paper published incorrect stories. This past January, a story ran with the headline, “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Retire from the US Supreme Court in January 2019.” This was false. In December 2016, the headline, “Kanye West Appointed Under-Secretary of the Interior After Meeting at Trump Tower” was published, which was also false. Both pieces were written by Greene, who also wrote the article on Skaggs’ passing.
At this time, the paper says they would comment further on the story when Skaggs’ autopsy and toxicology reports are released in October. Maybe by then, we’ll have a more accurate picture on this unfortunate passing.
There is new information on the shooting of former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz. According to ESPN, six suspects, including the alleged gunman, have been arrested in connection with the shooting of Ortiz. Rolfy Ferreyra Cruz, 25, is the alleged shooter and was part of a group that authorities said was offered $400,000 Dominican pesos (about $7,830) to carry out the attack. It’s still unclear the motive behind the attack and what charges the suspects are expected to face, but investigators are treating the case as attempted murder.
Police have arrested suspects in the David Ortiz shooting less than 48 hours after the incident at a night club in San Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, who was arrested at the scene of the shooting Sunday night was charged Tuesday as an accomplice to attempted murder. Féliz García and a second man tried to drive away after the shooting but his motorcycle fell to the pavement. A crowd attacked him and he was arrested by police, who transported him to a hospital for treatment.
Four other men, Joel Rodriguez Cruz, Oliver Moises Mirabal Acosta, Reynaldo Rodriguez Valenzuela, and Porfirio Allende Deschamps Vazquez, were also arrested. At this time, a seventh suspect still remains at large.
“At this moment, they are being interrogated and we will continue deepening the investigation to get to the truth about what happened,” Jean Alain Rodriguez, chief prosecutor, told ESPN. “Nobody involved in this lamentable episode will remain in impunity, not even the material or intellectual author” of the crime, he said.
Police say two young men drove up to the scene on a motorcycle when one of them got off to fire a single bullet into Ortiz’s lower back.
Police are investigating two cars that were parked nearby the scene of Sunday’s shooting. Multiple witnesses have told police they saw Féliz García and a gunman get into one of the cars before the shooting.
At a press conference Tuesday, Dominican Republic police director Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte held up the handgun used to shoot Ortiz. According to ESPN, Investigators found the gunman’s firearm, which was recovered in the home of one of the suspects in the province of Mao, police said.
“We are not even at 72 hours (since the shooting) and you see the advances we have made and certainly that will continue,” Bautista said at the press conference.
Ortiz was shot in the back and suffered severe internal damage that required multiple surgeries.
Ortiz is currently recovering from the shooting after multiple surgeries that included the removal of his gallbladder and part of his intestine. He was flown back to Boston on Monday and was being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“His condition is guarded and he will remain in the ICU for the coming days, but he is making good progress towards recovery,” Tiffany Ortiz said in the statement. “My family and I again want to thank everyone for their endless love and well wishes, and still ask for privacy while David continues to heal.”