Baseball Star Aroldis Chapman Sues Money Manager for Alleged Embezzlement

New York Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman waits for a new baseball as Tampa Bay Rays’ Michael Brosseau runs after hitting a solo home run during the eighth inning in Game 5 of a baseball American League Division Series, Oct. 9, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(CN) — Yankees ace pitcher Aroldis Chapman sued his former money manager, claiming millions of dollars were siphoned from his savings to fund the manager’s luxury purchases and escapades with an exotic dancer.

Chapman’s lawsuit, filed in Florida state court, alleges that an agent at Pro Management Resources used unfettered access to the pitcher’s accounts to embezzle money from him for years.

The Coral Springs, Florida company served as Chapman’s financial handler for nearly a decade and had power of attorney in managing Chapman’s affairs. 

The company managed “virtually every component” of his finances and in some instances provided Spanish translations for the pitcher, who defected from Cuba in 2009 to play ball in the United States.

Attorneys and accountants for Chapman, who holds the world record for the fastest baseball pitch, are still unraveling how much money was allegedly misappropriated. The rough estimate stands at $3 million as of the Oct. 14 filing date.

The lawsuit claims that unauthorized transactions by Benito Zavala Jr. date back at least four years. From 2016 to 2020, the lawsuit claims, the money manager diverted the pitcher’s funds in part through Western Union wire transfers totaling $560,000. The money was allegedly transferred to Zavala and two of his associates, a Florida exotic dancer and her brother.  

Chapman’s money was used to fund the purchase of an $836,000 residence, a $91,000 Cadillac Escalade, Saks Fifth Avenue shopping outings and plane tickets, the lawsuit alleges. The home and vehicle are purportedly held in the exotic dancer’s name.

Credit lines were taken out in Chapman’s name without his permission and used to pay for Zavala’s personal items and expenses, according to the lawsuit.

Pro Management Resources did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

The case lists counts for breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, conversion and unjust enrichment.

A negligent supervision count is brought against the company, alleging that it failed to question Zavala about large transfers being executed from Chapman’s accounts. The company’s owner “approved and facilitated the transfers of these substantial amounts without first independently” confirming whether Chapman had given permission for the transactions, the pleading states.

According to the lawsuit, Zavala had justified the transfers by claiming they were being used to acquire a property for the benefit of Chapman.

The pitcher is represented by John Rosenberg of Rosenberg Giger in New York City, alongside Michael Kean of Loren & Kean in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Though Pro Management has responded to some of the records requests submitted by Chapman’s counsel, the lawsuit makes a demand for accounting, saying that additional documentation is needed for Chapman to further investigate the alleged theft.

Included in the lawsuit is a request that the judge issue an injunction to prevent any disgorgement of assets allegedly purchased with Chapman’s funds.

Chapman filed the case in Broward County Circuit Court in South Florida.

The 32-year-old, six-time Major League Baseball all-star has a home in Davie, Florida, according to a report in the Sun Sentinel.

He has garnered the nickname “The Missile” and the “Cuban Flame Thrower” for his high-powered fastball, which was once clocked at 105.1 mph, a Guinness World Record. According to MLB.com, his $86 million contract with the New York Yankees was “the largest deal ever issued” to a relief pitcher.  

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