Former White Sox scout Jorge Oquendo receives one year in prison

Adam Pretty

Participant in bonus-skimming scandal

On Friday, a federal judge sentenced Jorge Oquendo Rivera to one year and a day  in prison for his role in the David Wilder-led bonus-skimming conspiracy. Oquendo had pleaded guilty in November 2011 to one count of mail fraud for mailing a $213,500 signing bonus from the White Sox to a player he had scouted in Brazil and then passing on approximately $20,000 to $25,000 in kickbacks to Wilder, then the White Sox' senior director of player personnel.

In addition, prosecutors alleged that Oquendo admitted he solicited and collected kickbacks from 17 prospective players in all during the three-year scheme.

In my series on the Wilder scandal, I hypothesized that the $213,500 payment was to Anderson Gomes. In three seasons in the White Sox organization, Gomes never made it above High-A and batted .254/.327/.392.

From my previous research, I learned that Oquendo may very well have been the one who gave Wilder the idea for this whole conspiracy. He certainly provided Wilder the opportunity and was instrumental in a little reported aspect of the conspiracy: kickbacks to Mexican League clubs for purchasing their players.

Oquendo also hired the other convicted member of the conspiracy, Victor Mateo. According to Mateo, when Oquendo hired him in 2006, he had to agree to provide Oquendo with every third paycheck he received from the White Sox and, eventually, $1,000 monthly in expense reimbursements he received from the White Sox. Oquendo's attorney said that Oquendo pocketed $38,000 total.

Oquendo is the first of the three conspirators to be sentenced.  He is also required to pay back the $440,718 stolen from the White Sox - a liability which he is likely to share with Wilder and Mateo once they are sentenced.

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