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SI.com: Feds Investigating Bowden

Melissa Segura of SI.com, who broke the Esmailyn Gonzalez story, reports that Jim Bowden is being investigated by federal investigators for skimming signing bonuses as far back as 1994 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. Segura's source is "a baseball executive familiar with the investigation.

Segura's story can be found here.

Segura reports that two sources link Jose Oquendo with David Wilder, who was fired by the White Sox after allegations that he had pocketed player bonus money. Oquendo worked for Wilder and for Bowden during his time with the Reds.

Since last year, the FBI has been investigating baseball scouting practices in Latin America, where an unregulated network of middlemen, or street agents, create the potential for false IDs, money-skimming and kickbacks. Team president Stan Kasten acknowledged Wednesday a link between the Nats' signing of Esmailyn González in 2006 and the probe, though he was unwilling to say whether Nationals employees would be held culpable. Already, several big league teams, including the Chicago White Sox, have fired employees involved in the scheming. To date, FBI investigators last summer interviewed Washington employees, including Bowden, who has denied any wrongdoing.

To sign González, the Nationals depended on José Rijo, the link between their scouting department and the Dominican. Since January 2005, Rijo has served as a special assistant in the Washington front office, operating the team's player development facility in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic.

Rijo fostered a relationship with González for at least two years before the signing. To get close with González, though, he dealt with González's buscone, a street agent named Basilio Vizcaino, who just so happened to be Rijo's childhood friend. During periods before he turned pro, González even stayed with Vizcaino, hoping to improve his living conditions and his profile as a prospect. There was never a question about how González should repay his debt: Once he earned a signing bonus, Vizcaino would keep 20 percent.

The Nats ended up signing Gonzalez -- who was thought at the time to be 16 years old -- for a $1.4 million bonus. Gonzalez's was actually 19 at the time and his real name was Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo.

Jose Rijo took a leave of absence from the Nats on Saturday and is back in the Dominican Republic.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  February 22, 2009; 10:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

Good riddance Bowden. Join the unemployment lines!

Posted by: johnbear1 | February 22, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Now, see, clearly a charge here is grounds for dismissal. This is a Fire Jim Bowden type offense, even if it's just a grand jury indictment.

Posted by: Section506 | February 22, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Stick a fork in him -- he's been sticking one in us by acquiring every dog ever signed by the Reds -- how many pennants did they win with them?

Posted by: grclarkdc1 | February 22, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

I can see this will be a distraction to the team for a long time until it is resolved.

I still believe innocent until proven guilty so I won't throw him under the bus yet; but thinking of the team, maybe Jim should voluntarily take his own leave of absense to put the team first.

Rizzo seems very capable to step in so the Nats should be able to continue seamlessly.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 22, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Well if this isn't the writing on the wall to get this loser canned and away from baseball forever, then I don't know what else is.

Posted by: FireBowdenNow | February 22, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Natscan, you asked a couple posts back what Stan's plan was. Stan objects to calling it The Plan, actually, and once yelled at Barry about using that term (among other things he once yelled at Barry for). It's really a set of principles, but here they are:

1. Built the champion of tomorrow first through the draft.

2. Sign low-cost, high-risk free agents to try to strike gold and then flip for young talent.

3. Purchase high-talent free agents at the beginning of their free agency when it appears we have reached a critical mass of young talent.

Principle three has a test associated with it: You'll know you've reached critical mass when you're only looking for one or two high-talent free agents to fill one or two holes on an otherwise great team.

The major separation between this and a true plan is that this doesn't have a timeline associated with it, only a hope that between 5 and 10 years it is ready to go (so 2010 to 2015).

I suspect if there is complete failure still at 2015 there will be a reassessment of the principles. More likely, though, is that it won't bear fruit and then the reassessment will be of the implementers, if not sooner.

Posted by: Section506 | February 22, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

"according to a baseball executive familiar with the investigation."

aka

I can smear you, and not identify myself, and the press is complicit because all they want to do is sell ad space.

I am so sick of this garbage. I think it's time to find out how Melissa Segura gets her information.

Posted by: dand187 | February 22, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

estoy firmado!
****************************************************
Juxtaposed quotes in re el escándalo @ Loma del Sueno
****************************************************
"Some academies in the past had the problem when the kid was in the middle of town, finding too many things to derail themselves. Here, it's baseball, and you can get the best out of them, rather than wanting to go to the beach or the club and whatever." Acta said.
****************************************************
“His ‘academy’ is a dump and he has the DR's AARP running the dump. Not exactly forward thinking.”
****************************************************
“The academy features seven pristine fields, TVs in the rooms for established players, a fully loaded cafeteria kitchen, two more lower-level dorms, and English classes for the patrons.”
****************************************************
"These kids have such huge egos," Torres said. "When they get their first contract, they buy cars and fancy clothes and walk around their home towns saying ‘estoy firmado’ [I’m signed]. When they get released, they feel like they have failed and can never go home. You hear stories of kids trying to kill themselves after they get released. It is a bad situation."
****************************************************
“Kasten would also become President of the Atlanta Braves in 1986, until 2003.”
****************************************************
estoy firmado!

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 22, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

estoy firmado!
****************************************************
Juxtaposed quotes in re el escándalo @ Loma del Sueno
****************************************************

“Called a John Schuerholz disciple for his years there, he was schooled from 1991-95 under some of the best in baseball tutelage, including Paul Snyder.” (And Stan)
****************************************************
“Bud Selig imposed the fine and banned the Braves from scouting and signing players in the Dominican Republic for six months … Selig also fined Atlanta scouts Paul Snyder and Rene Francisco in his decision … .”
****************************************************
“Incoming president Stan Kasten considers the Gonzalez signing the equivalent to the Braves signing outfielder Andruw Jones and shortstop Rafael Furcal in 1993 and 1996, respectively.”
****************************************************
“Wilder would find these players and sign them for a large amount of money and then take their money as their "agent." Now - he had to get permission to pass these players off & what he was doing was supplying these players with fake birth certificates taking as many as 5 years off their age & also supplying them with HGH & steroids (even as they were in MiLB). He was then taking this money and putting it into an off-shore account, taking the maximum amount possible at any given time and washing it through a business he opened up in Arizona that rehabs houses.”
****************************************************
estoy firmado!

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 22, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

GoingGoingGone, it's still just an investigation, that is an indication of good police work, not wrong-doing. I would hope that the FBI investigates everyone whose name they hear, not just the people they think for sure did something wrong.

Which is why I say a grand jury indictment should be the difference. If the Feds think it is serious enough to bring up charges (and thereby pay for a court case), then it means that he's seriously under suspicion and he becomes a complete distraction.

Posted by: Section506 | February 22, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

estoy firmado!
****************************************************
Juxtaposed quotes in re el escándalo @ Loma del Sueno
****************************************************
“With some variation, the mechanism by which team representatives can skim is simple: The team official overvalues the player and asks for money back from the player and his family.”
****************************************************
“In July 2008, President Kasten declined to say the team has committed no wrongdoing.”
****************************************************
"Oh, no, there is no wrongdoing," Bowden said.
****************************************************
“Rumors float through Latin American baseball circles about which buscones pump their kids full of steroids or change identification papers to falsify ages, which ones have been shot for stealing clients, and worst of all, which ones force kids to perform sexual favors in return for training and representation.”
****************************************************
“Additionally, David Wilder has spent many years in the restaurant/service industry. He has owned and/or managed the following: Chuy's Mexican Broiler, Cherry Moon Restaurant and Burn Gay Nightclub, all in Phoenix, AZ.”
****************************************************
estoy firmado!

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 22, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

estoy firmado!
****************************************************
Juxtaposed quotes in re el escándalo @ Loma del Sueno
****************************************************
“Reyes, a fast center fielder with large hands and a ready smile, said that he had received $525,000 from the White Sox — the full bonus agreed to by David Wilder himself.”
****************************************************
“A Farm Director makes about 100K/season (not peanuts, but not extravagant either) and Regier was driving around in a 150+ K Porsche and wearing a 15 K watch with 500+ dollar shoes & belts. You don’t make that kind of money as a Farm Director.”
****************************************************
“Recent reports, I heard at a local tavern last week, suggest that David Wilder was wearing a white hat and was fired before all the facts were known.”
****************************************************
“ ‘I don't think we're any smarter than anybody else,’ said (Dayton) Moore, who earned a graduate degree in physical education and health and a master's in athletic administration from George Mason University.”
****************************************************
estoy firmado!

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 22, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

estoy firmado!
****************************************************
Juxtaposed quotes in re el escándalo @ Loma del Sueno
****************************************************
“To say that Dominicans are passionate about the game of baseball is a little like saying the Grand Canyon is a decent sized hole in the ground.”
****************************************************
"We want every young boy wanting to be a Washington National," Bowden said.
****************************************************
"Stan told me to get aggressive," Rijo said. "Don't do anything illegal. Do everything by the book. But get aggressive -- and get us players."
****************************************************
"We're here to play," scouting director Dana Brown said.
****************************************************
"He (Acta) has caused our profile down there to explode," Kasten said, "and that's a good thing for the future."
****************************************************
"You have to start somewhere," Rijo said. "To see that many players, it's something you got to take advantage of, you know?"
****************************************************
“They know that if they bring a top player to you, and you're not going to be able to afford him, it's like, 'Why bring him?' Now, since the signing of [Gonzalez], we're going to get a lot of buscones bringing their players to us, Dana Brown said."
****************************************************
estoy firmado!

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 22, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

estoy firmado!
****************************************************
Juxtaposed quotes in re el escándalo @ Loma del Sueno
****************************************************
“He is 16 years old, he is almost a millionaire, and he's a celebrity.
Townspeople wave from storefront bars and fruit stands, approaching the driver's side window to offer handshakes and greetings. He picks up one woman and gives her a ride to the bus stop.”
****************************************************
"This is better for my family. When I get to the major leagues, I'll buy a house of my own."
****************************************************
“When asked if he was proud to take care of his parents, brother and four sisters, he speaks quickly in Spanish and grins from ear to ear. The rough translation: ‘Hell, yeah.’ ”
****************************************************
"Gracias a Dios [Thanks be to God], that didn't happen to me. The people I trusted didn't cheat me. They gave me all that I needed."
****************************************************
estoy firmado!

Posted by: dhfrancoise | February 22, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

stick a fork in him, Bowden is Adam Dunn!

Posted by: cabraman | February 22, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what is going to come out of this and if Bowden did anything he should be fired. However, there is no evidence at all that he did anything illegal or unethical. I think Bowden has done a lot of great things for this orginazation and I stand by him until he is proven guilty. However, until there is some kind of evidence he is innocent.

Posted by: brothbart | February 22, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

If they thought Rijo might become a distraction, get a load of this guy!

Posted by: AnonymousSources | February 22, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Any chance the Feds can somehow link Vinnie Cerrato into this also? It would be great to get rid of all the poor GM's i town in one swell foop!

Posted by: cabraman | February 22, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

As the Segway sinks slowly into the sunset....

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 22, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Typo in your post. It is Jorge Oquendo not Jose Oquendo

Posted by: nicefellow31 | February 22, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

That's exactly the point, Anonymous Sources. Whatever you do to Rijo, you have to do to JimBo as well. There's so much smoke circulating around JimBo right now, he's probably in violation of some EPA rule as well. But let's look at the bright side of this, which is:

NO MORE SIGNING WASHED UP EX-REDS!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: jdschulz50 | February 22, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Now we know why so many former Reds players made their way to the Nationals...JimBow probably owed them money.

Posted by: leetee1955 | February 22, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Guilty or not, there is the question of Bowden's continued effectiveness. If other teams don't want to touch him with a ten-foot pole, then the Nats will have trouble getting value for any of the surplus of players that Bowden has amassed for the outfield.

I think the aversion of some other GMs to Bowden is long-standing, and that pool is probably not shrinking.

+1/2St

Posted by: kevincostello | February 23, 2009 5:03 AM | Report abuse

The problem with taking a leave for Bowden is that you can take a leave as a scout consultant, but you can't exactly do that as a GM. A team needs an active GM...

Posted by: swang30 | February 23, 2009 5:24 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else starting to wonder if the heat on JimBow went up considerably as a direct result of the Basilio Vizcaino ESPN interview where Vizcaino pointed a finger at MLB for failing to catch the ruse multiple times? JimBow may be guilty as sin, but after the Vizcaino interview, it makes a lot of sense for MLB sources to start saying "Hey, look over there!"

Posted by: ArlingtonNatsFan | February 23, 2009 6:49 AM | Report abuse

Wow, the Nats have THREE headlines on ESPN's MLB section for what I can only imagine is the first time in history. Annnd guess how many of them are positive.

Posted by: RickFelt | February 23, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else curious about the "everyone relies on MLB to check ages" angle?

I did not look at the SI article, but Chico's story in the news section mentions that Alvarez Lugo's age was reported as 16 to the NYY and Boston, same as the Nats. But TX was the #2 bidder at $700K, so those teams must have seen something that scared them off (or to discount their bids even further), and both are known to push hard for international signings.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 23, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

"The problem with taking a leave for Bowden is that you can take a leave as a scout consultant, but you can't exactly do that as a GM. A team needs an active GM..."

If Bowden takes a leave, either by his choice or the team's choice, they can always appoint an acting GM and carry on with business as usual. That kind of thing has been done before, at even higher levels than GM, with no ill effects. I mean, look how many years Bud Selig was acting commissioner after the owners forced out Fay Vincent. Okay, bad example...

Posted by: nunof1 | February 23, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

To me, jca, that's the most damning part of the Frowny affair. It's not JUST that he was 20, and the Nats thought he was 16. It's that Bowden pushed a channel for negotiations (buscone instead of agent) and ended up paying DOUBLE the best offer for a guy who was 20 and not 16. So, ok, the age gaffe is possibly semi-hemi-demi-quasi-excusable... "he fooled everybody, MLB should have..." blah blah. But what's the excuse for using a channel that has FBI investigations surrounding it that resulted in the Nats paying double what they could have paid for the same talent, that would have avoided the FBI entanglements and saved $700K?

On top of that, the allegations and investigations should probably be enough - that's why it's "FORMER White Sox senior director of player personnel"

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | February 23, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

>Guilty or not, there is the question of Bowden's continued effectiveness. If other teams don't want to touch him with a ten-foot pole, then the Nats will have trouble getting value for any of the surplus of players that Bowden has amassed for the outfield.

Ya think?? The rest of this crap is window-dressing.

Posted by: Brue | February 23, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love the PTBowdoin apologist out there. Here's a novel idea, the Washington Nationals are a privately run organization and a member of a league for the sake of what constitutes their requirement to generate income thru the entertainment provided to the general public. If the owners of said business deem one of their employees is not providing said entertainment to generate revenue either for not being trustworthy or involved in what they or the authorities deem suspicious via probable cause then they (owners) have the right to demand said individuals resignation or the owners have the right to fire his/her a**.

Enough of the legal mumbo-jumbo, if the LernerStans have had enough of this guys antics or questionable behavior they have every right to let him go. There is no court of appeals in a privately owned business.

Posted by: TippyCanoe | February 23, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"estoy firmado!"
______________________________________________________

Man, seeing this phrase every other post is starting to annoy the crap out of me.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 23, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Jimbo is innocent until proven guilty. This is an investigation, and although it may not look for him, he has not been proven guilty as of right now.

If he is quilty the Lerners should and most likely will run is butt out of town on a rail.

This is just another reason for the Jimbo haters to come out of the wood work.

Posted by: Section505203 | February 23, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

You're not alone, 505, although the screens full of cut-and-pasted quotes are more annoying to me (causing excessive scrolling to get to something that I might actually want to read).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 23, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Jim is not a crook I know him personally . people mistake a business man for a crook Bowden is not that .

when a team is loosing ..someone always gets the finger pointed at the field manager first..he said in an intewrview last week that nationals would be ready to wn in 2010 .

I am hearing this crap and I am the owner and your packing your bags as fast as a chicken without legs..

what kind of a freakin stament is that .?? what he meant was that team would be sounf by 2010 agin what kind of Message are u sending pal !! ??

I wont deny it I want the freakin job'' I am quialified and I got what it takes to take Over Right Now .. they got my resume and I had one of the best In Earl "Sidney" Weaver with the Orioles..

Give me the freakin Job Jim talk to Lerner and gimmme the freakin job and fire this guy . . your not going anywhere with this Acta fellow.

They need a hard Nose Blank to go in there and get there rear ends going ..

Rising Major league Manager . Renny Felson

Posted by: godwetrust2001 | February 23, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I am a Fan of the Nationals and I like Jim Bowden as a Gm and baseball Man.

I played a long time ago on and I an currently involve in the making of a book called " In the majors at 12 ' at 55 a major League Manager.

A story of Courage and determination to be the very best . Based on my life and one of Earl "Sidney" Weaver(Oriole hall of fame Manager) who was very close to me as a Kid with the Orioles and a Role Model .

Oriole Farm 76 , Renny felson

Posted by: godwetrust2001 | February 26, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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