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Dukes To Avoid Jail, But Other Complications Await

The attorney representing Elijah Dukes said today that the Washington Nationals outfielder, currently facing a $40,643.18 debt and a one-week deadline to pay it, will be able to come up with the money and avoid jail time. But even that resolution, several close to Dukes said this week, amounts to little more than a quick fix for an ingrained problem.

To erase the debt he owes to his estranged wife -- Dukes has neglected to make his monthly $6,527 child-support and alimony payments since October -- Dukes will have to find money he does not have, sources said. He has no assets -- he owns no house, no car -- and spent in 2008 more than his $394,000 annual salary should have allowed, sources said.

"I think his agents and lawyers and financial advisors will get him a loan," one source said. "His problem is, he owes lawyers, he pays attorneys, he owes [women]. He doesn't make enough money to pay his debt. He's basically making nothing each month."

Said Grady Irvin, Dukes' attorney: "There are enough people who are supportive of Elijah who will help him come up with this money."

The Nationals, who acquired Dukes in a trade with Tampa in December 2007, issued a public statement of support on Wednesday, when Dukes appeared in a Hillsborough County (Fla.) courtroom for the latest flashpoint in a prolonged divorce case. There, Dukes learned he had until Jan. 23 to pay NiShea Dukes, mother of three of his children; otherwise, he would head to jail for 90 days.

For Dukes, though, another upcoming swell of litigation will likely add to his debts, sources said, and at least briefly interrupt his preparation for Washington's 2009 season. On Feb. 24, Dukes will again have to be present in court when several legal yarns are untangled. Lawyers representing NiShea Dukes want to increase the monthly child-support payment to account for the couple's third child, born after the divorce case began. Those lawyers will also argue that Elijah Dukes should pay the legal fees for his estranged wife, a sum that will exceed $30,000.

"He will have to pay the attorney fees because of the discrepancy in income," said Rick Escobar, one of the attorneys representing NiShea Dukes, a school teacher. "If this keeps going, those fees could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. You've got to realize lawyers are $350 or $450 an hour. But that's why these divorces are expensive."

Dukes must appear again in court on March 18 for paternity cases involving two other women.

Even privately, Washington team officials describe Dukes' tenure with the team as promising, at least so far. Dukes' first season in Washington involved several injuries, a few moments where he showed a temper and plenty of moments where he showed his talent. Monitored by a full-time employee, an ex-cop named James Williams, Dukes always had a confidant nearby. Nationals officials point out that even his current legal issues are just new twists in cases that started long before he joined the team.

Still, the latest problems for Dukes began in October 2008 -- when he stopped receiving a regular paycheck. Baseball players are paid between April and September, and during those months, the child support and alimony were always paid. The Nationals, operating under an income deduction order, automatically took $6,527 every month from Dukes' salary and issued it to the proper authorities in Florida, who disseminated it NiShea Dukes.

"But the last payment I got from him," NiShea Dukes said, "was September 30."

Because the Nationals won't pay him again until April, Dukes this offseason has been unable to rely on the automatic income deductions. He has gone the winter without an income. With the goal of fully recovering from several late-season leg injuries, Dukes did not play winter ball. At one point, he gave NiShea Dukes a check for $200. But otherwise, according to recent court order, Dukes "willfully refused to abide" by his obligation to pay child support and alimony.

"The bottom line of this whole thing -- the children's needs are not an on- and offseason obligation," said Carlos Ramirez, another attorney representing NiShea Dukes. "It's a year-round obligation the father has to maintain."

By Chico Harlan  |  January 16, 2009; 4:29 PM ET
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Is he getting a raise this year? I'd say that if he is it is likely already spent on paying for his troubled past.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 16, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

When you buy a Nats ticket it goes to garbage like Dukes. The Nats are like a day program for criminals.

Posted by: alanb1 | January 16, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Quick buy out his arb years and sign him to a long term deal with a low annual salary but with a modest signing bonus. It's not often that you have prison as a hammer in baseball negotiations.

Posted by: traderkirk | January 16, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Come on Justin Maxwell. Never before have so many wanted a youngster to succeed so badly. Give us a RF we can respect. Or at least tolerate.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 16, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"When you buy a Nats ticket it goes to garbage like Dukes. The Nats are like a day program for criminals."

I think that is a little harsh. Nobody can say this guy hasn't had troubles in the past, one of which appears to be not knowing what a condom is but, that is beside the point.

The guy is trying to work out his life and the Nats are trying to help him. This is not an overnight process. He kept his nose clean last season. I think he should be on a zero tolerance policy. But, I think he should be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

Posted by: Section505203 | January 16, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I am sympathetic to Dukes, while at the same time wondering where did the money go?

Is James Williams' fee paid by the Nats or by Dukes?

Dukes has no assets?

What exactly are his financial advisors doing? Have they setup some kind of structure to hide his assets? I wonder how much his take home pay is after taxes. His wife is getting at least a third of that, maybe more. I wonder what other paternity cases he is involved in and what the settlements have been. It sounds like he is trying to run up a descending escalator and is losing the battle. I just wonder where is actual break even point is. All in all it looks like there are a lot of big fish out there following Dukes, and everyone of them is feeding off of him.

Posted by: driley | January 16, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be nice if they were discussing the two young players we traded for instead of this though...

Posted by: soundbloke | January 16, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Driley, I think you are correct (the big fish analogy). I hope someone can step up and provide him with some financial advice. This sounds like Mike Tyson all over again in that you have a young man with money (though Dukes has nowhere near Tyson money) and who has people around him who are more than willing to part him and his money. Darn lawyers!!!!! Ok, its not just the lawyers, but I do hope he can find trustworthy people to help him figure it out.

Posted by: jfromPG | January 16, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Not for nothing but, a ball club should be providing advisers. It happens for European soccer players. It's not as if they can't see this coming.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 16, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I hate lawyers!

It seems like the lerners should be able to help Dukes. Sign him now to a low seven year deal for $500,000 a year.

call in NiShea and have the nats lawyers mitigate a deal where she is payed her whole year's alimony from April to September. Increase her child-support, she is a low-paid teacher for god's sakes.

Let's see the nats step up their efforts to help put Dukes in a position to succeed. Hell hire Michelle Singletary to help this boy out with money.

Yes, i know he makes 400,000 a year and it should have never gotten to this but if the nats believe in Dukes, they must go above and beyond to help him succeed. He will appreciate it and I think the fans would like to see the Nats step up and help a regular player for them. Hell if we can pay miilions to WMP and Dimitri to play in Syracuse then surely we can afford an extra $100,000 to help a nats regular have limited off-field distractions and we get to keep him for several more years.

Posted by: PNatsFan | January 16, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Dukes is broke, man, real broke.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 16, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget, Dukes was suspended without pay by Tampa Bay for the second half of the 2007 season before coming to DC. Also, who knows how many people - family, friends, hangers-on, entourage - had their hands out to him because he's a pro athlete?
CSN just announced that Stan The Plan Man will be on "Washington Post Live" next Friday at 5 p.m. Probably selling tickets to NatsFest.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 16, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

LOL! I think it went, "that, my friends, is very broke." I laughed so hard at this video. Loved the part where he says his "abs was pokin' out afterwards" telling him golf is a good workout.

Posted by: NatsNut | January 16, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

This is exactly what I was thinking and makes me more sympathetic to the guy.

Sure, his salary seems sizable to us little people, but in his situation I can see the whole thing being siphoned off pretty quick by lawyers, his other baby mommas, brothers, sisters, etc.

And c'mon. $6,000 a month is a lot of money for his ex, even on a teacher's salary and with 3 kids. I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for her "plight."

Also, who knows how many people - family, friends, hangers-on, entourage - had their hands out to him because he's a pro athlete?

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 16, 2009 5:51 PM

Posted by: NatsNut | January 16, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I once remember reading a quote by the late boxer, Willie Pep, who said something like this "First, you lose your talent. Then you lose your money. Then you lose your friends."

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 16, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

It's part of the process - first you mature emotionally in order to get your life straight, and then you mature financially after that. Guy's a solid citizen as far as I'm concerned. He just needs some help planning his life. This is where college always comes in. Some of the subtleties are that you really don't know what it has to offer until you miss out on it.

Posted by: Brue | January 16, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Don't feel bad for Elijah Dukes - but his take home - based his $392.5K salary - is probably under $200K.It's a lot more than I make, but doesn't put him in the super rich athlete category either.

Take his $392.5K, and drop out $39.2K for his agent, another $36.2 for the child support he did pay and since he's in the 40% tax bracket, take out another $126.8K and that's ignoring alot of other things like state taxes, medicare and the rest of those deductions.

I'm with those on the board - it would be a big risk on the Nats parts to buy out one of Dukes' future arbitration years in a 3 year deal - but by throwing Dukes a lifeline here, they may end up with alot of loyalty out of the kid.

And talking about "advisors" - the 10% that his agent gets should handle that. He's got a case that his agent isn't looking out for his best interests. Unless of course Dukes ignored their advice....

Posted by: comish4lif | January 16, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Per cots, Dukes signing bonus when drafted was $500K in 2002. He was making minor league pay until 2007, when he earned major league minimum (about $63K / mo) from less than 3 month. Last year I think was the year of the divorce judgment, so let's figure everything before was divied up and the judgment was based on his major league earnings at the time of the judgment. If he has child support obligations for his 3 other kids outside his marriage, he may now have claims for $150K before tax just in child support, plus lawyers fees. It may be over half his income, before taxes take another big chunk. It is entirely possible that he has no assets.

I'm not condoning all of his life choices. However, it is possible these claims are not being paid because they are large relative to his earnings, and he has not been able to budget, and has no money coming in, rather than malicious squirreling away of assets to deprive his kids.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 16, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I realize he did not pay the amounts he owes, and the judgment says he willfully refused to abide by the judgment, so it sounds like he may have said, "to heck with it, I'm just going to spend my money and say I'm broke." I'm only saying these amounts seem very high, especially in light of the earnings he had when the couple was together and what he was earnign when he had his other kids.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 16, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Homeboy's gotta HELLUVA swing.

Posted by: TheSpaldingMachine | January 16, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Baseball agents typically get 5% or less, not 10%.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | January 16, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

His home was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew when he was eight. His mother bought and sold crack cocaine. When his mom bought some fake crack, his dad killed the dealer. He grew up around drugs and prostitutes. His male role model was in jail.

While Elijah Dukes should be held responsible for his actions, those of us with good lives and good values thanks to our suburban upbringing should show a little empathy - not sympathy - for a man who simply doesn't know better.

Fellow graduates of his high school are Doc Gooden, Carl Everett and Gary Sheffield. See a pattern?

Pound the guy for his mistakes, but then help him up and push him in the right direction.

Posted by: rushfari | January 16, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Please bloggers, don't feel sorry for Elijah. He has plenty of money and is receiving money on the offseason currently that the team is not disclosing like $6000/month (which is additional to his $394k salary).

If he would leave all the gold diggers (Shawny Dubose and stripper Keisha) alone in the DC area, he would have the money to pay for his obligations. He takes care of all of the women kids that don't mean him any good, but wants his real kid's mothers to have mercy on him. (That won't happen though) He made this bed so now he has to lie in it.

Believe me, Elijah doesn't feel sorry for no one, but himself. He doesn't do anything for his mother, father, brothers, or sisters. His mom still lives on the government and has sheets hanging up for blinds at her house. She has no car nor do any of his siblings.

Please don't have any sympathy for him. Have some for his kids that walk around with too small shoes on and that didn't have a Christmas because the mothers are struggling to feed them.

He has nothing he owns because he won't let anyone manage his money because he wants to just blow it.

Posted by: nd62 | January 16, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

but if the nationals were deducting the $6527 and paying it for him, how is he six months in arrears four months later?

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 16, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

nd62 - I don't know how many children you have by Elijah, but I can't say I feel sorry for you / NiShea Dukes. Get your hands out of his pockets and give him a chance to get to a point in life where he can support you. It strikes me as odd that a woman who's a middle school teacher making good money (granted I'm in Canada where that job pays between $50,000 and $70,000 a year depending on experience) needs additional support beyond the $78,000 she's already getting. Seems like $130,000 to $140,000 a year isn't enough. Can you say GoldDigger.

Posted by: KilgoreQTrout | January 16, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

nd62 sez: "Please bloggers, don't feel sorry for Elijah. He has plenty of money and is receiving money on the offseason currently that the team is not disclosing like $6000/month (which is additional to his $394k salary)."

Um, nd62, are you one of Dukes' posse or legal team? Or on the Nats staff? Then how the hell would you know this? Please declare your sources.
No? then shut the f' up.
This is an everyday man's personal life (no matter how screwed up) being embarrassingly played out in the public media. You have every right to complain about Dukes on-field performance, but not his personal life. If you aren't directly involved (being a Nat fan doesn't qualify), then (again), shut the f' up.
Learn from this. Because maybe next time, we might all be reading about your family matters in the WaPo Metro section: "Local Man arrested for blovating".

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | January 16, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse


Pardon me? Since when does the ex-wife determine the amount of child support? In the real world this is negotiated by lawyers or determined by a judge. It hardly makes the ex a "gold digger" if she expects to receive the amount agreed on.

Do you really think Dukes would be required to pay $6K a month if he didn't have the necessary income? Again, in the real world, child support is tied to the spouse's current level of income.

Dukes had 3 children with this woman. He has a court order to pay this amount and he hasn't made a payment in 4 months and you're criticizing the ex-wife?

Posted by: grforbes | January 17, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

In Virginia there is a state agency that enforces the Child Support decision of the court. The spouse who receives or does not receive the money can work through the agency to collect back payments, etc. The full resources of the state then act in her behalf. If Florida has a similar system then Mrs. Dukes just incurred a 30 thousand dollar debt to lawyers that she did not have to incur. It appears that Mrs. Dukes has an entourage of lawyers and advisors as well all hoping to get a piece of Mr. Dukes.

Posted by: driley | January 17, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I enjoy the academic discussion. but the bottom line is, the dude can hit.

Posted by: MalcolmYoung | January 17, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't often request anything from the people who run NJ, but I'm begging for another post so we can talk about something else.

Every pro sports team has a handful of guys whose personal lives are messed up. While the percentage may be slightly higher because money can attract more amoral behavior, I would guess that it's not much different than any other company or organization. It's what theologians call "original sin". None of us is perfect. Let the poor guy sort this out in private without the rest of us debating his moral standing and how much child support he should be paying.

Pitchers and catchers in 28 days.


Posted by: db423 | January 17, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm with #4 in wishing for another (baseball-related) post.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 17, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Ok, leetee, I was out for a walk this morning (-23 degrees C.)and got to thinking. Curiosity ruled the day. How did you make the Murray connection? A hockey fan who connected the dots, or..?
Have you ever been to Shawville Que?

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 17, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse


It's about 30 degrees warmer here in the DC area - about 11 degrees right now. I've been a fan of the Capitals since they wore white pants on the road in their first season. I remembered that the Brothers Murray were from Quebec and that Bryan had been a school teacher. Yes, I'm old.

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 17, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@leetee1955: I remember those Cap memories too. I.....

OH CRAP!!!! That means I'm old too...

Pass the Metamucil...

Posted by: TimDz | January 17, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Thanks leetee,
For interests sake, there are five Murray brothers, all decent hockey players in their day. In the time of the six teams, Bill, younger than Bryan, older than Terry, had an excellent chance to be a Leaf, but, in the end, opted to stay home instead.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | January 17, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

As I said in an earlier post on this topic the only people making money in this story are the lawyers. It appears that our school teacher has a lawyer for each child and of course one or an advisor for herself. I estimate that with the court ordered child support for just two of the kids and their lawyers (including Dukes's lawyers), Dukes may have something like $50,000 after tax to live on. This does not include his daily living expenses ( ie. rent , food). It also does not include the other three kids that apparently he has fathered and of course these kids' lawyers.

I am not saying that Dukes is not responsible for his actions but someone needs to step forward and set up a reasonable child support mechanism for all five kids. That money would be deducted by the Nats and paid directly to a trust set up for the kids. I assume the only reason why these women and their lawyers are going after the Dukes is for the kids so they should readily agree to this approach. The ladies, including the school teacher, would pay for their own legal fees.

I assume that each child should cost maybe $2000 a month. The Nats pay $120,000 into the trust. The two ladies deduct $2,000 per month for each of the kids. The $120,000 is equivalent to $196,700 pre tax. Dukes would have something like $198,000 pre tax to live on and support his own lawyers..
This assumes the ladies would be working instead of living off their kids. If that is the case the monthly support amount might have to be increased to pay day care. It appears Dukes could afford this increase. The trustee of the trust would pay the day care directly.

The cost to set up the trust and retain a trustee is minimal and Dukes could easily pay for this.

As Dukes makes more money, additional amounts are set aside for the kids college education. Again if this savings plan is started immediately, the college expense would represent a very small deduction for Dukes (maybe $25 per month , per child).

This all looks very workable but I think the mother and their lawyers would not agree to this because they do not have access to the money. They see Dukes as their money tree.

Posted by: mjames0 | January 17, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Pardon me? Since when does the ex-wife determine the amount of child support? In the real world this is negotiated by lawyers or determined by a judge. It hardly makes the ex a "gold digger" if she expects to receive the amount agreed on.

Do you really think Dukes would be required to pay $6K a month if he didn't have the necessary income? Again, in the real world, child support is tied to the spouse's current level of income.

Dukes had 3 children with this woman. He has a court order to pay this amount and he hasn't made a payment in 4 months and you're criticizing the ex-wife?

Posted by: grforbes | January 17, 2009 6:47 AM

sorry, but the woman got 6k a month through the entire course of the baseball season. there's absolutely no feasible reason why those kids should be "walking around in too small shoes". those kids should have more shoes and clothes than they know what to do with at this point regardless of whether Dukes has paid in the last 4 months or not.

If the children are really in such dire straits that they don't have shoes and clothes, then I question where that 6k a month during baseball season was spent. and I question where her work salary is going, because she does still work even though Dukes has to pay alimony and child support, right?

but at any rate, this was really a poor story to report. it's none of our freaking business, and shouldn't have been made public to begin with.

how about trying to report on Nationals Baseball? You know..the reason everyone is here?

Posted by: MrMadison | January 17, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Yes, time for everyone to bite their tongues about Dukes's messy familial support situation - baseball hot stove speculation only (or, what appears to be reminisces about Canadian hockey players - it's cold enough for that!)

Posted by: Traveler8 | January 17, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

in the words of the esteemed Kanye West:

"I know somebody paying child support for one of his kids, his baby momma's Car and Crib is bigger than'll see him on TV, Any Given Sunday, win the Super Bowl and drive off in a Hyundai...she was 'sposed to get your shorty Tyco witcha money, she went to the doctor, got lipo witcha money...."

I'm not saying that this sort of thing is what's going on here...but I wouldn't be totally shocked about it.

both of them need to work this out in court, and not through the media. I notice a distinct lack of actual quotes from Dukes throughout this whole thing though, while the Lady is talking to anyone who will listen. (even on a Blog comments section apparently)

Posted by: MrMadison | January 17, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Greg Joly
Michel Belhumeur W-0 L-24 T-3
Stan White

I attended 6 games that first year. I saw three wins. That still might be my greatest fan year in history

Posted by: db423 | January 17, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, new post.

Posted by: BinM | January 17, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

apparently Elijah is just about the only one NOT posting with opinions about his business.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 17, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

and can I just point out for the record, it's "bloviating" not "blovating."

Yes, there is an I in bloviate.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 17, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately having money doesn't necessarily mean one can MANAGE it well! Why do you think there are so many stories about people winning Millions of Dollars in lotteries and proceeding to go bankrupt!

As for his ex, judges and lawyers aren't necessarily fair in dealings when it comes to the male being the NON-Custodial parent. I knew someone once who's Ex made over 80,000 a year! Yet he was a GS-7 govt. employee that had to pay between 1/3 to 1/2 his salary for alimony and child support! He had to live in house with room mates while his wife was in a big house with the kids! Now I know there are 2 sides to every story, BUT, how fair is that when one made less than 25K/year!

Someone needs to guide this young man in managing his business. A mediator should meet with Elijah, his ex, his lawyer, her lawyer, on how to manage this matter.

Posted by: CALSGR8 | January 17, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

As the old song says -

"It's cheaper
to keep her"

Posted by: charley42 | January 18, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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