A South Florida man was sentenced to a month in prison and five months of house arrest for his alleged role in a smuggling operation that brought Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig out of Cuba and ultimately to the United States, reports the Associated Press.
Gilberto Suarez, 41, was accused of helping to finance the trip that brought Puig and two other ballplayers to the U.S. as they sought to pursue their dreams in Major League Baseball. Suarez faced up to a year in prison after he pleaded guilty to alien smuggling in September.
Authorities said Suarez's only role in the case was driving Puig in a taxi from Mexico City to the Texas border.
Puig, like all Cuban refugees, received the United States government’s protection under the "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy, or Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which now allows Cubans to remain in the country permanently once on U.S. soil.
[daily_cut.mlb]Prosecutors said that Suarez was one of several men who helped pay for Puig's 2012 boat trip from Cuba to Mexico. The initial price for the trip was $250,000 but was raised to $400,000. Those who financed the trip wanted a part of Puig’s seven-year, $42 million contract that he ended up signing with the Dodgers.
According to court documents, Suarez received $2.5 million from Puig's contract and agreed to forfeit his Miami house and condominium and a Mercedes-Benz as part of his plea deal.
Puig was the runner-up to the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2013. He hit .296 with 16 home runs and 69 RBI last season, helping the Dodgers win the National League West.
- Scooby Axson