Jose Rijo, the former major league pitcher and former head of the Nationals' Latin American program, has been charged with money laundering in connection with Matias Avelino Castro, a suspected drug trafficker in the Dominican Republic, according to the Associated Press.
Prosector Soraime Vargas, according to the report, announced at a news conference today that close to 80 percent of Castro's assets were in Rijo's name, including a sports complex and two hotels. The Dominican Today reported that the prosecutor asked that bond be set at $20 million and that Rijo be banned from traveling.
Rijo's name popped up in connection with Castro last year. Dominican journalist Jose Agustin Silvestre was kidnapped and shot to death in the Dominican Republic on Aug. 2, 2011, shortly before he had planned to release an investigative report that claimed that Avelino was a drug trafficker and included other allegations of corruption. Dominican authorities had spoken with Rijo at the time about his business ties to Avelino, who has been accused ordering the killing, although Rijo was not detained at the time.
Rijo, 47, had been a special assistant to former Nationals general manager Jim Bowden from 2005-2009, during which time he headed the team's efforts in Latin America. Rijo was instrumental in the team's signing of 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez for $1.4 million on July 2, 2006, only to have it later revealed that Gonzalez was really a 20-year-old named Carlos Alvarez. The scandal led to the departure of Rijo and Bowden in 2009 and the team moved out of Rijo's Dominican academy.
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