The Latest: Agent, trainer guilty in Cuban smuggling case
MIAMI (AP) — The latest on developments on the Cuban baseball smuggling case (All times local):
A Miami jury has convicted a Florida sports agent and a baseball trainer accused of smuggling Cuban ballplayers into the U.S.
The jury verdict Wednesday came after about six weeks of testimony in the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada on alien smuggling and conspiracy charges.
Prosecution evidence included testimony from several Major League Baseball players detailing their defections from communist Cuba and signing of lucrative free-agent contracts.
Trial evidence included documents containing false information used to obtain players’ residency in Mexico and Haiti they needed before coming to the U.S. There was also testimony about attempted kidnappings of players and illegal border crossings.
Neither Hernandez nor Estrada took the stand. Their lawyers contended prosecutors never proved they were involved in smuggling and insisted the men ran legitimate businesses.
A Miami jury will now decide the fate of a sports agent and a trainer accused of smuggling Cuban baseball players into the United States.
The federal jury was expected to begin deliberations Wednesday after six weeks of testimony in the trial of agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada. Both are charged with conspiracy and alien smuggling.
Prosecutors said the two oversaw a network of boat captains, handlers, document forgers and used phony paperwork to get the players to the U.S. quickly so they could sign lucrative Major League Baseball contracts. Defense lawyers say the men did nothing illegal.
Several smuggled Cuban players testified, including Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and Leonys Martin of the Seattle Mariners. Neither Hernandez nor Estrada took the witness stand.