DRSEA INFORMER: Former Baseball Exec Admits Taking Kickbacks

Taken from: Volume IV, Issue 2: A Publication For Your Reading Enjoyment

One-time high-ranking Chicago White Sox executive David Wilder recently pleaded guilty to federalfraud charges that he solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from poor Dominican prospects hoping to make it in the big leagues.

“I understand what I have done,” Wilder said as he pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in federal court in Chicago.

David Wilder


No sentencing date was immediately set by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle. Wilder, who lives in California, was released on bond.

Baseball sources previously told the Chicago Tribune that the investigation began in 2008 after Wilder was stopped at an airport leaving the Dominican Republic with $30,000 to $40,000 in cash. Wilder told customs officials that the money was gambling winnings from local casinos, according to the sources.

Wilder, who had been a close friend and adviser to White Sox general manager Ken Williams, was indicted last November. He had been fired in 2008 as the White Sox’s senior director of player personnel amid the federal probe.

The indictment against Wilder alleged that he and two former Sox scouts, Jorge Oquendo Rivera and Victor Mateo, fraudulently inflated the signing bonuses of Latin American prospects and then had the players kickback the extra money to them. All totaled, they pocketed about $400,000 intended for 23 prospects, authorities said. Rivera and Mateo still face fraud charges.

They “enriched themselves by taking advantage of vulnerable ballplayers, who were anxious to pursue their dreams of stardom in the major leagues,” Robert Grant, head of the Chicago FBI office, said in a statement at the time of the indictment.  Federal authorities said the kickback scam was hidden from the White Sox and its “more senior officials.”

To get the kickbacks, Wilder, Oquendo and Mateo inflated the amount of money needed to sign the prospects, causing the White Sox to pay signing bonuses and buy the rights to players from other teams at ballooned prices, the indictment charged.

The FBI has been investigating a number of major league clubs, including the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals in addition to the White Sox.


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