Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Updated: February 25, 4:11 PM ET
Man who recruited Morales investigated
By Jorge Arangure Jr.
ESPN The Magazine
A former employee of Hendricks Sports Management is being investigated by both the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Coral Springs (Fla.) Police Department about the disappearance of more than $300,000 from the bank account of Los Angeles Angels first baseman Kendry Morales.
Rodney Fernandez, a former employee of Hendricks Sports Management LP who recruited Cuban defectors Morales and Aroldis Chapman to the firm, confirmed earlier this week that he was questioned by the MLBPA in the past week regarding Morales, but denied having taken any money from the player.
Coral Springs Police Department spokesman Joe McHugh said Wednesday that Fernandez is being investigated by his department and that an incident report was filed on Feb. 22, 2010. Fernandez is the only person being investigated at this point, but McHugh said the investigation only officially began this week.
Two days after Chapman signed a six-year, $30.25 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds, Fernandez said, he received a three-line termination letter from the Hendricks Sports Management.
Morales left Hendricks Sports Management earlier this month and hired agent Scott Boras. Morales declined comment through the Scott Boras Corp.
In an interview Monday with ESPN The Magazine, Fernandez said that money taken out of Morales' bank account was used for expenses related to Hendricks Sports Management, all of which was done with the approval of firm co-founders Randy and Alan Hendricks. Fernandez also said that the Hendrickses were supposed to reimburse Morales for the money but never did.
"If I'm supposedly the person who took all that money, then how come now I don't have anything?" he said. "I don't deserve what is happening."
Fernandez said he was told by members of the Hendricks agency to keep quiet about rumors of financial indiscretions in December and January so it would not adversely affect Chapman's free-agent contract negotiations with the Reds.
He said that he didn't have access to Morales' bank account and that the Hendricks firm should "pay Kendry back his money."
In an e-mail, Randy Hendricks characterized Fernandez's allegations as "untrue and malicious." He added: "The Hendricks brothers have been in baseball for over 30 years and have an outstanding reputation and record. We have negotiated numerous significant contracts, including the one for Aroldis Chapman. While his contract is admittedly complex, those who understand it recognize its importance."
An incident report obtained from Coral Springs police and dated Feb. 22, 2010, said that an attorney for Morales, Jay Reisinger, met with Fernandez, who "admitted to taking the money without asking." The police report said that Morales and Reisinger are willing to sign a "victim/witness affidavit" and that Morales "wishes to prosecute."
No one has been charged or arrested in the case.
According to the report, Reisinger told police investigators that Morales moved his money from a personal bank account to Pro Management Resources -- a financial management company -- and gave Fernandez access to withdraw money in order to pay certain small bills.
"From June 2008 until December 2009 [approximately 18 months], Rodney had been requesting PMR [Pro Management Resources] to wire money via Western Union to certain people without Kendry's knowledge," the report said.
Reisinger told investigators that Morales discovered the unauthorized transactions in mid-December.
Fernandez, reached on Wednesday, said he had yet to speak to CSPD investigators.
"It's good that they are investigating, so that people will find out the truth," Fernandez said. "I have nothing to hide."
Since being fired by Hendricks Sports Management, Fernandez has pursued employment with other agencies, including the Proformance agency based in Virginia.
Proformance agent Jay Alou said the agency did not know about the union's investigation until it received a call from union assistant general counsel Doyle Pryor, who talked to managing partner Bean Stringfellow about Fernandez but did not provide details of the union's investigation.
At this point, it's uncertain what action the union can take against Fernandez because he is not a certified agent.
When contacted for comment, Pryor wrote in an e-mail: "The Players Association does not comment publicly on any ongoing investigations under our regulations governing player agents."
Fernandez previously worked for Bill Rego, an agent who in 2008 was decertified by the union for allegedly having stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from several clients. But according to one source close to the situation, Fernandez was not a subject of that inquiry.
Fernandez said he hopes for fair treatment.
"A lot of people who have power in this business think they can stomp all over people below them," Fernandez said. "Instead of investigating me, the union should be investigating the bigger names."
Jorge Arangure Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.