Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu made a strange admission during testimony Wednesday in the trial of two men accused of smuggling ballplayers from Cuba.
According to the Associated Press, agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada are accused of running an “illegal operation that smuggled players from Cuba to third countries so they could sign lucrative free agent deals with Major League Baseball teams.”
That includes Abreu, who signed with the White Sox in 2013. On Wednesday, the AP reported that Abreu told jurors at the trial in Miami that he ate part of a fake passport before he got to the United States.
The AP story says Abreu was given a fake passport in Haiti and told to destroy it, but he instead ate part of it. This is from that story:
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Abreu testified he ordered a beer on an Air France flight from Haiti to Miami and slowly consumed the page containing a false name and his photo. Abreu said he traveled illegally because he was worried he would miss an October 2013 deadline and lose the $68 million contract he later signed with Chicago.
“Little by little I swallowed that first page of the passport. I could not arrive in the United States with a false passport,” he said.
Abreu, who said he left Cuba for Haiti on a speedboat earlier that year, could still enter the United States at that time without a valid passport.
Under the “wet feet, dry feet” policy, Cubans who arrived in the United States without a visa could become permanent residents.
Estrada and Hernandez are accused of alien smuggling and conspiracy. The AP reported that as part of the deal with Abreu, Estrada’s company, Total Baseball, was to be get 20 percent of Abreu’s contract and Hernandez would be paid 5 percent.
Abreu signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox in 2013.