Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Union backs Melky Cabrera
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The baseball players' union concluded Melky Cabrera's agents didn't know about a scheme to create a phony website in a defense of his positive drug test but said they failed to properly manage the employees of the firm who tried to carry out the scheme.
Brothers Sam and Seth Levinson, the heads of ACES Inc., were probed by the Major League Baseball Players Association after MLB's investigations department discovered the attempt to concoct evidence. Cabrera, the San Francisco Giants outfielder who was the MVP of the All-Star Game, was suspended 50 games in August after testing positive for testosterone.
"After a thorough investigation, we concluded none of the ACES principals were involved in or had knowledge of the Cabrera scheme," union head Michael Weiner said Tuesday from Los Angeles, where he was attending agents' meetings. "We also concluded there was an issue with supervision of employees."
Weiner said action had been taken against the Levinsons, but would not be more specific, and said ACES remains eligible to represent all players.
"We are pleased to have been cleared of wrongdoing by the players' association after its thorough investigation, and we greatly appreciate the support we received from our players," Seth Levinson said in a statement.
The union, whose conclusions were first reported by Yahoo!, denied the application for limited agent certification of Juan Nunez, whom ACES said was a consultant. Nunez took responsibility for fabricating a website that Cabrera was intending to rely on in the union's grievance to overturn the suspension.
Union general counsel Dave Prouty said Nunez was indefinitely barred from certification as an agent of any kind. Limited certification allows agents to deal with players but does not permit them to negotiate with teams.
The union also turned down the application for limited certification by Juan Nunez's brother, Tirzon Nunez, but that denial was made without any restriction on reapplication for any type of certification, Prouty said.
Prouty said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Tirzon Nunez, but that he violated agent regulations by failing to cooperate with the union's investigation.
MLB banned Juan Nunez from clubhouses after he admitted the scheme. Nunez bought a website and attempted to alter it in a manner that would allow Cabrera to claim the positive test was caused by a substance obtained through the website.
"For 27 years we have represented our clients with honesty and integrity and we will continue to aggressively assert and protect the rights and interests of our players," Seth Levinson said.
In addition, the players' association concluded it will not investigate accusations by former big league catcher Paul LoDuca that the Levinsons and ACES helped him acquire performance-enhancing drugs from former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski and that the Levinsons and ACES reimbursed Radomski for PEDs.
The Levinsons last represented LoDuca in 2006 and ACES filed a grievance in May against LoDuca over fees the company claims it is owed.
"Mr. LoDuca is fabricating this story as some measure of revenge for the filing of a fee grievance," Jay Reisinger, a lawyer for ACES, said in a statement.
Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, the union has the power to certify player agents. The events involved in the website are part of ongoing investigations by MLB.
Since the scheme was uncovered, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Nyjer Morgan and Everth Cabrera have switched from ACES to other agencies.