CHICAGO—A former Chicago White Sox scouting executive was sentenced today to two years in federal prison for accepting approximately $440,000 in kickbacks from the signing bonuses and contract buyouts that two of the team’s Latin American scouts paid to secure 23 prospective players between December 2004 and February 2008. The defendant, David S. Wilder, the White Sox farm system director from late 2003 to 2006 when he became the team’s senior director of player personnel until May 2008, had pleaded guilty to mail fraud in February 2011.
Wilder, 52, of San Francisco, was ordered to begin serving his sentence on October 31 by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle. Wilder was also ordered to pay $440,781 in restitution to the White Sox.
Wilder admitted that he defrauded the White Sox of money and his honest services while concealing the kickbacks from the team and its more senior executives. He later cooperated with the investigation, leading the government to ask for a reduced sentence.
Two former White Sox scouts, Jorge L. Oquendo Rivera, 52, of Puerto Rico, the team’s Latin American scout between November 2004 and October 2007, and Victor Mateo, 42, of the Dominican Republic, a Sox scout in the Dominican Republic between November 2006 and May 2008, were also charged and pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Oquendo Rivera is scheduled to report to prison this Friday to begin serving a sentence of a year and a day that Judge Norgle imposed in June. Mateo is scheduled to be sentenced on September 18.
According to court documents, the White Sox relied on Wilder, as well as Oquendo Rivera and Mateo, to recommend and approve signing bonus and related payments, depending on a player’s talent, necessary to induce a player to sign with the White Sox or to induce another team to release the player to the White Sox, without being inflated for kickbacks. Instead, Wilder and the other defendants facilitated, solicited, or obtained more than $440,000 in kickbacks from at least 23 Latin American players signed by the White Sox.
The White Sox reported findings of an internal investigation to Major League Baseball and baseball officials referred the matter to federal authorities. Both the team and Major League Baseball were instrumental in launching the investigation and provided continuing cooperation.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher K. Veatch and Michelle Nasser.
The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert G. Shields, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.