WASHINGTON NATIONALS GM JIM BOWDEN
Federal officials and MLB are looking into the possibility that Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden may be associated in a kickback scandal involving the signing of baseball players from the Dominican Republic. The feds are also reportedly investigating Bowden’s assistant former Major League pitcher Jose Rijo.
ESPN first had the story of Bowden’s possible involvement in the growing scandal on Friday. The piece was written by investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn. Those two reporters were hired by ESPN away from major newspapers (The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Daily News respectively) to cover baseball’s steroid scandal. This scandal may be worse. People could actually go to jail. The ESPN article states,
The investigation into Bowden and others stems from a tip MLB received several months ago alleging that then-White Sox senior personnel director Dave Wilder and two of his scouts were skimming bonus money paid to Dominican signees, according to the MLB source. Wilder was stopped while trying to re-enter the United States with roughly $40,000 in cash after a trip to the Dominican Republic, a source told ESPN, sparking a broader inquiry.
Wilder and two other scouts have been fired by the White Sox. There was a follow up article in today’s LA Times . If Bowden or Rijo are involved they could face felony fraud charges.
SI.com updated the Bowden story on Saturday. They say Bowden (and Rijo) are being investigated over the 2006 signing of Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez. Gonzalez received a reported $1.4 million bonus when he signed with the Nationals. Unfortnuately, according to SI, Gonzalez received almost none of the money. It was apparently skimmed and taken from him by a variety of people. This practice is not uncommon-thus the investigation by the Feds and MLB.