Local January 4, 2011 | 3:12 pm

Dominican Police arrest noted Major League scout on fraud charges

Santo Domingo.- Police officers arrested on Tuesday well-known Major League Baseball scout Victor Antonio Baez Garcia on charges of fraud and document forgery of Dominican Republic prospects for Major League Baseball.

The emailed statement, from Dominican Police Colonel Maximo Baez of Media Relations, says the arrest of Victor Baez is the most recent step of their new initiative that seeks to investigate and arrest those scouts who sell false hope to baseball players by utilizing fraudulent documents, visas or passports in order to obtain contracts. "The objective of this new focus on the part of the Dominican authorities is to avoid further victimization of Dominican citizens who fall prey to manipulation by document fixers."

Victor Baez has been one of the most successful Dominican scouts for Major League Baseball and has run a baseball camp at the well-known Liga Naco (Naco League), located at Calle Las Caobas #6, Ensanche Los Prados. As a talent-search, he managed to send dozens of baseball players to the United States with generous contracts. However, few people know about the dirty underside of this process, a shadowy side of the deal that often involved thousands of dollars, but that also frequently resulted in shattered dreams of talented Dominican baseball players.

In the Major Leagues, the younger a baseball player, the higher the prospects are and the higher the possibility of receiving an attractive salary. Baseball talent-scouts, such as Baez, regularly take a significant cut of these signing bonuses as compensation for their services, all of which significantly reduces the final signing package. These circumstances create a huge incentive to make players appear as young as possible and tempt document fixers, such as Baez, to take extreme measures with an aim to increasing their profits. Among other actions in this regard, they falsify their players’ birth certificates, passport information, national identity cards, and even school records. These illegal acts of document fixers often collide with reality when the players arrive at the U.S. Embassy to apply for a visa.

Due to a history of fraud, all Dominican Major League Baseball prospects face intense scrutiny by the U.S. Embassy at the time that they apply for a visa. Upon discovering the true age of the players, the deliberate alteration of documents translates into an immediate denial of a visa. In addition these players may also face possible permanent ineligibility for a U.S. visa. Thus, in minutes players lose contracts worth thousands and or even millions of dollars.

In the case of Victor Baez, his illegal efforts to conceal the true age and identities of his players by providing fraudulent documents finally caught up with him, and he has been arrested on charges of fraud. Dominican authorities and Major League Baseball officials are looking at ways to identify other document fixers who, in an attempt to obtain higher bonuses for their players, systematically provide them with fraudulent documents.

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