A Miami jury convicted player agent Bart Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada on Wednesday on a series of charges stemming from the smuggling of players from Cuba into the United States. Both men remain free on bail until they are sentenced on July 11, but are facing 15 and 35 years in prison, respectively.
The pair was convicted on 12 counts relating to falsely obtaining visas for Cuban defectors to obtain entry into the United States. Some of Hernandez’s clients have included White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, Royals outfielder Jorge Soler and Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin, among a host of others.
The government charged that Hernandez and Estrada worked through back channels to smuggle players from Cuba into Haiti or Mexico and then across the United States border. Abreu testified at trial that he at one point ate a piece of his own passport because he feared getting caught.
In exchange for their services, Hernandez and Estrada charged their clients high fees, sometimes up to 30 percent of their major league contract.
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