SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — A court in the Dominican Republic ordered the New York Yankees to pay more than $750,000 to Carlos Rios, their former director of Latin American scouting, for what it ruled was his unlawful firing.
In court papers examined Friday by The Associated Press, Judge Alexis Gomez Geraldino found in favor of Rios, who was fired in August 2008 for allegedly skimming $100,000 in bonus money from Yankees prospect Kelvin De Leon.
The judge said the accusations against Rios were based on rumor and ordered the Yankees to pay him $762,878 in damages. The team plans to appeal.
“Based on evidence uncovered by Major League Baseball’s department of investigation, the New York Yankees fired Carlos Rios,” team spokeswoman Alice McGillion said. “Pursuant to his contract with the Yankees, he had a hearing with Major League Baseball, which he was entitled to. He did not show up at the hearing, and the commissioner then upheld the firing. We’re going to appeal the decision.”
In August 2008, the Yankees terminated the contracts of Rios and scout Ramon Valdivia for allegedly taking bonus cash from De Leon.
Valdivia last year won a suit for defamation against De Leon, who paid him $70,000 in compensation.
Victor Burgos, investigating the case for Major League Baseball, acknowledged in court testimony that he had erred in a report in which he accused Rios of skimming money from De Leon.
“This court has been able to establish through statements from witnesses … that none of them saw Carlos Rios receive money. This was all based on rumors,” the judge wrote in a ruling dated Dec. 30, 2009.
De Leon, an outfielder signed by New York in 2007 when he was 16, was paid $1.1 million to attend the Yankees facility in a banana tree-lined meadow in Boca Chica, down the road from his coastal hometown of La Caleta.
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.