Prominent baseball player agent Bart Hernandez has been indicted in Florida on human trafficking charges, Cuban baseball documentary filmmaker Sami Khan was first to report (links to Twitter). The counts stem from his alleged role in conspiring to smuggle outfielder Leonys Martin to the United States.
Hernandez is a prominent player rep who is known, in particular, for representing players from Cuba. As Ben Badler of Baseball America notes on Twitter, he has been involved with the agency work for players such as Jose Abreu, Jorge Soler, Raisel Iglesias, and Yaisel Sierra.
The 27-year-old Martin is now with the Mariners and is currently represented by Melvin Roman. He initially came to the U.S. in May of 2011 after signing a five-year contract with the Rangers. He reportedly established residency in Mexico before going through the process of achieving MLB free agency.
If convicted, Hernandez would face a minimum three-year sentence that could reach twenty years, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. The indictment accuses Hernandez of bringing Martin to the United States for “commercial advantage and private financial gain” before he had received official authorization. It seeks forfeiture of Hernandez’s interest in contracts of three players identified only by their initials. One appears to be Martin, of course, and Abreu may well be another, along with Dalier Hinojosa.
The indictment also refers to an ongoing arbitration between Hernandez’s Global Sports Management and the Praver Shapiro agency, on the one hand, and Martin, on the other. If Hernandez is convicted, he would stand to sacrifice his interest in the outcome of that dispute.
As Passan notes, there’s also litigation between the parties. Indeed, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard news relating to Martin’s case, as another figure in Martin’s journey to the United States — Eliezer Lazo — previously pled guilty to charges. A Mexican baseball academy tied with Lazo had sought to collect a large portion of Martin’s earnings in the contract he signed with Texas. Passan reported details of the matter at the time.
Apart from the more direct results, Hernandez’s representation of still-unsigned Cuban players now appears to be in question. He currently works for Marc Anthony’s Magnus Sports, and represents several notable players. Among them, per Passan, are top Cuban prospects Luis Yander La O and Guillermo Heredia.