TODAY: Deadspin has obtained and published the complaint in full.
Those interested in learning all of the details of what Nunez states in his filing will want to read it in its original form. But it is worth discussing a few pertinent allegations, all of which were previously investigated (at least to some extent) by the MLBPA but which could now be subject to a different sort of test through the civil litigation process.
Nunez claims that the Levinsons directed and supervised his actions, approving of his questionable efforts. He details a purported undertaking to retain Fernando Rodney as a client during a dispute with another agency, with the Levinsons allegedly ordering Nunez to engineer an arrangement to kick back a portion of the agency’s fee when the MLBPA had ordered that there not be any contact with the reliever.
On the PED front, Nunez says that the Levinson brothers were behind his effort to connect players with performance-enhancing substances through Tony Bosch and the Biogenesis clinic. He also charges the ACES leaders with being “intimately involved” in the failed, harebrained scheme to clear Cabrera (which he details in all its elaborate absurdity). And he explains his prior admissions to the contrary by suggesting the Levinsons asked him to take the fall and promised to take care of him.
YESTERDAY:A disgraced former figure in the baseball world has filed a lawsuit that proposes to revisit one of the game’s most notable scandals. According to a report from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, Juan Carlos Nunez — who served jail time relating to the Biogenesis PED mess — is suing the ACES agency that he once worked for as an independent contractor.
At this point, details are quite hazy even as to the allegations, as the complaint itself has yet to surface. Per Heyman, Nunez claims that ACES founders Sam and Seth Levinson guided and funded him in a scheme to attract clients and connect them with performance-enhancing drugs. He is seeking “millions” in damages under as-yet-unknown legal theories.
When reached for comment, Seth and Sam Levinson provided MLBTR the following statement:
“While we have not yet seen the complaint, Juan Nunez is a convicted felon who spent time in federal prison. He betrayed his family, the players who trusted him and the very people who gave him an opportunity at a great life and career. He was terminated almost six (6) years ago, in August of 2012, after his betrayals came to light. ACES has been thoroughly investigated, and at every turn, has fully cooperated. The MLBPA exonerated us, all of the players cleared us, and it was conclusively proven that we did absolutely nothing wrong. This is nothing more than a shakedown by a man broken by his own criminal actions. We will take the fight to Mr. Nunez for any meritless and defamatory claims, and we will seek all available remedies and damages that his criminal behavior has caused.”
Given that we don’t yet even know precisely what has been alleged, let alone what evidence might be mustered, it goes without saying that the actual merits of Nunez’s claims are anything but settled. Those general caveats are certainly all the more pressing here, given Nunez’s highly problematic track record.
Nunez is perhaps best known for setting up a fake website in a misguided plot to absolve Melky Cabrera (then an ACES client) of his 2012 PED suspension. It turned out that Nunez’s ties to illicit substances went beyond that case, as he was ultimately sentenced to jail time and house arrest after copping to functioning as an intermediary between baseball players and the Biogenesis clinic. Nunez was reportedly implicated in prior scams and came with an undesirable reputation even before Biogenesis.
The MLBPA investigated the ACES agency as part of the broad Biogenesis fallout, as the agency represented ten players that were caught up in the scandal. The Levinsons vehemently denied any knowledge of Nunez’s improprieties and were ultimately cleared by the union. ACES continues to represent a lengthy list of major leaguers, as documented in MLBTR’s Agency Database.
In large part, then, this is a heavily-trodden matter that has largely been resolved. That said, there surely were many questions legitimately asked with so many ACES clients coming under scrutiny. The agency obviously benefited from the relationship with Nunez, who helped to recruit and retain Spanish-speaking ballplayers. Some around the game raised concerns with the Levinsons, as documented at the time in reports such as this one from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, though the agency has not faced discipline and has continued to operate as usual in the ensuing years.
It remains to be seen whether this lawsuit will lead to the production of new information relating to the Biogenesis matter, let alone whether there is any chance that the commissioner’s office or MLBPA will reengage a matter they’d surely like to leave in the past. That may hinge upon whether Nunez is able to produce any actual evidence. Of course, with the potential discovery process in this suit still a ways off, it is not even known yet whether this litigation will really provide a vehicle for reliable new information, let alone whether it will meaningfully change our understanding of this unfortunate epoch of MLB history.