Former White Sox Scout Gets Year in Prison for Kickbacks

A former Chicago White Sox scout, Jorge Oquendo Rivera, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for his role in a scheme to take kickbacks from signing bonuses paid by the team to Latin American prospects.

Rivera, who pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in 2011, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle in Chicago, said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for acting Chicago U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro.

Oquendo, fellow scout Victor Mateo and the Major League Baseball team’s one-time director of player personnel, David Wilder, were indicted in 2010 on charges they had extracted about $400,000 from the bonuses and from Mexican player contract buyouts.

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 2011 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.

Oquendo is the first to be sentenced.

He 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 his plea agreement.

Oquendo’s lawyer, Luis Rafael Rivera-Rodriquez, said in an e-mail that his client wouldn’t comment on the sentence imposed by Norgle.

“He respects the court’s decision and recognizes the court’s wisdom,” the attorney said. “He is glad to place this matter behind and looks forward to continue his work with the community by helping kids in baseball tutoring,” Rivera-Rodriguez said.

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

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