A former Chicago White Sox scout pleaded guilty to scheming with two other men to take kickbacks from the Major League Baseball team’s signing bonuses paid to Latin American prospects.
Jorge Oquendo Rivera admitted today to one count of mail fraud in federal court in Chicago. Oquendo, fellow scout Victor Mateo and former White Sox player personnel director David Wilder were indicted a year ago on charges they extracted about $400,000 from the bonuses and from Mexican player contract buyouts.
Oquendo knew Wilder was misleading the team about the amount of money needed to sign or acquire the players, which induced the team to overpay and unwittingly fund the kickbacks, according to the scout’s plea agreement.
Kickbacks were collected from 23 players from December 2004 to February 2008, according to the government. The players’ names haven’t been made public. The White Sox won the World Series in 2005.
Wilder pleaded guilty in February to a mail fraud count, admitting that he received a kickback of more than $20,000 from the signing of a player in Brazil. Mateo pleaded guilty to mail fraud a month later.
The maximum sentence Oquendo faces is 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7. He is free on bail.
Oquendo’s lawyer, Luis Rafael Rivera, declined to comment after the sentencing.
“The club is very pleased at the closure and that the authorities were able to get three guilty pleas,” Scott Reifert, a spokesman for the White Sox, said in a phone message. “We’re happy to be able to put this behind us and move forward.”
The case is U.S. v. Wilder, 10-cr-948, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).
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