Report: Nats' Hernandez target of probe
Washington Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez is the target of a federal money laundering investigation over his alleged ties to a convicted Puerto Rican drug trafficker, the Washington Times reported Tuesday.
According to the report, the veteran right-hander is suspected of acting as a "straw buyer" for Angel Ayala-Vazquez in the purchase of two luxury sports cars in January 2006.
Ayala-Vazquez was convicted in April of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, heroin and pills in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He was also considered one of the leading traffickers of drugs into the US.
Ayala-Vazquez took possession of the 2006 Lamborghini and 2003 Porsche, valued at more than $400,000, while the cars remained in Hernandez's name with Florida registrations, it is alleged. According to court documents from Ayala-Vazquez's trial, authorities believe straw buyers were used to make purchases of real estate, cars and businesses look legitimate.
According to the report, a warehouse in Puerto Rico used by Ayala-Vazquez and his associates as a clubhouse was also listed in Hernandez's name.
Following Ayala-Vazquez's conviction on April 26, US Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez-Velez told the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia that she expected charges to be filed against Hernandez.
Major League Baseball investigators reportedly met with the US Attorney's office in Puerto Rico May 18 about the case.
Ayala-Vazquez, who was arrested in 2009 after a seven-year investigation, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 8.
Hernandez, a 36-year-old Cuban native, has pitched in the majors since 1996 when he debuted with the Marlins. The two-time All-Star was the NLCS and World Series MVP in 1997, and this season is 3-8 with a 4.15 ERA in 14 starts.