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Ex-White Sox Scout Oquendo Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud

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Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Ex-Chicago White Sox Latin America scout Jorge Oquendo Rivera pleaded not guilty to taking kickbacks when signing prospective Major League Baseball players for the team.

Oquendo, 49, one of three former team employees whose indictment was announced on Nov. 10, entered his plea today through his lawyer, Luis Rivera, in Chicago. Prosecutors alleged the three received more than $400,000 from 23 players’ signing bonuses from 2004 to 2008.

Also charged were David S. Wilder, 50, a former White Sox player personnel director, and Victor Mateo, 39, a Dominican Republic scout. They are to appear for arraignment on Dec. 9, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle said today.

Wilder and Oquendo face seven counts of mail fraud, each punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Mateo faces three counts of mail fraud.

Outside the courtroom, Oquendo’s lawyer declined to comment on the charges against his client.

The White Sox won baseball’s World Series championship in 2005. Wilder, of San Francisco, was the team’s farm system director from 2003 to 2006, then director of player personnel until he was fired with Mateo in 2008.

Oquendo was fired a year earlier for reasons unrelated to the kickback investigation, the team said in a Nov. 10 press statement.

The case is U.S. v. Wilder, 1:10-cr-00948, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew M. Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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