Cuban baseball smugglers beg for lenient prison sentences

US baseball player smugglers ask for lenient prison sentences

Player Jose Abreu was one of the players smuggled in

Friday, October 13, 2017

A baseball trainer and sports agent who were found guilty of smuggling Cuban baseball players to the US are asking for lenient prison sentences.

Court records show that agent Bartolo Hernandez hopes to get a prison sentence of just three years at most and trainer Julio Estrada is hoping for less than five years.

However, despite their calls, those prosecuting are asking the judge to hand down sentences longer than the guidelines, which recommend a maximum of nine years.

The pair were convicted in March this year, according to The Seattle Times, and are expected to be sentenced on November 2.

Both men were running a scheme where they were smuggling Cuban players into the country, and in return the players would give them a share of the contracts they secured.

This began in 2009, according to ESPN. Players would be taken by speedboat from Cuba to either Haiti or Mexico and then sign papers which would declare they were residents, before being signed to MLB teams. 

The prosecution claimed many documents used in this scheme were false and also included fake jobs created for players.

Those smuggled in included Tampa Bay Rays' Adeiny Hechavarria, Jose Abreu from Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs' Leonys Martin.