Report: Nats GM Bowden Part of Federal Investigation

GM met with FBI last year

Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden is part of a federal investigation into the skimming of signing bonuses given to prospects from Latin America, according to an report posted Sunday night.

The Web site reported, citing an unidentified baseball executive familiar with the investigation, the FBI is looking at Bowden's actions as far back as 1994, when he was GM of the Cincinnati Reds.

Bowden met last year with FBI investigators looking into an alleged scam involving skimming signing bonuses for prospects from the Dominican Republic.

Last year, the Chicago White Sox fired director of player personnel David Wilder and two other scouts in the club's Latin American operation after a two-month investigation by Major League Baseball's Department of Investigations.

The White Sox said the three were dismissed "for actions in Latin America that were violations of club policy and standards," but did not elaborate.

Findings from baseball's investigation were turned over to federal authorities. reported that two unidentified sources inside baseball say that former Latin America scout Jorge Oquendo, who confirmed being contacted by the FBI to SI but denied skimming bonuses, has worked for Wilder and Bowden.

The report comes a day after the Nationals announced that special assistant Jose Rijo was taking a leave of absence after a Major League Baseball investigation revealed a prospect from the Dominican Republic he discovered was older than originally believed.

Rijo is a former major league pitcher and the MVP of the 1990 World Series for the Reds.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that prospect Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez lied about his age and name. Gonzalez received a $1.4 million signing bonus in 2006 when the Nationals signed what they thought was a 16-year-old shortstop.

The Nationals had been listing his date of birth as Sept. 21, 1989, which would make him 19. But Kasten said an MLB investigation determined Gonzalez is actually Carlos David Alvarez Lugo, who was born in November 1985 -- meaning he is really 23.

Kasten and Bowden did not respond to e-mail Sunday night from the AP requesting comment on the report from the AP.
When Kasten discussed the Gonzalez case earlier in the week, he said no one else with the Nationals, including Bowden, would comment on the investigation.

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