CHICAGO (CN) – Federal prosecutors say a former White Sox scouting executive and two scouts took $400,000 in kickbacks from signing bonuses and contract buyouts of 23 Latin American recruits. The 7-count indictment claims the men concealed the kickbacks from the team and its more senior officials.
Defendant David Wilder was the director of the White Sox farm system from late 2003 until 2006, when he became the Sox senior director of player personnel. Indicted with him were scouts Jorge Oquendo Rivera and Victor Mateo.
Oquendo and Mateo scouted Latin American prospects and held preliminary negotiations, then sent their recommendations to Wilder.
“If the recommended payment to a prospective player or the player’s team was less than $100,000, Wilder could authorize the player’s signing without further approval,” the complaint states.
Wilder had to get authorization from the Sox’s general manager to sign a player if it would cost more than $100,000. Once the player was approved, the White Sox issued a check to the player, his team, or the recruiting scout, who was expected to give the check to the player.
Prosecutors say the defendants lied to the White Sox about the amount of money needed to sign certain players – seeking out recruits and teams who agreed to pass along kickbacks to them – inflating the price of signing bonuses and contract buyouts.
“Wilder, Oquendo, and Mateo obtained kickbacks of approximately $400,000 from the signings of approximately 23 prospective players,” according to the complaint.
“These defendants allegedly defrauded their employer and enriched themselves by taking advantage of vulnerable ballplayers, who were anxious to pursue their dreams of stardom in the major leagues,” FBI agent Robert Grant said in a statement announcing the indictments.
Wilder, of San Francisco and Oquendo, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, are expected to appear voluntarily at arraignment in Chicago. An arrest warrant has been issued for Mateo, who is from the Dominican Republic.
Wilder and Oquendo Rivera are each charged with seven counts of mail fraud; Mateo is charged with three counts of mail fraud. If convicted, they face up 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count, with mandatory restitution.