White Sox Player Ate His Passport on a Plane

Jose Abreu testified he had to get rid of fake doc before landing in US
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2017 9:42 AM CST
White Sox Player Ate His Passport on a Plane
Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, left, and his attorney leave federal court during a a break Wednesday in Miami.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Some people snack on the peanuts offered on airline flights; Jose Abreu scarfs down beer and pieces of his passport. That's what the first baseman for the Chicago White Sox testified Wednesday in Miami at a trial for a baseball agent and a trainer accused of smuggling Cuban baseball players, and their families, into the US, the Sun Sentinel reports. The 30-year-old Abreu—who isn't being charged with anything and won't be if he tells the truth in court, prosecutors say—revealed to jurors he was pulling in just $20 a month in 2013 playing baseball in his native Cuba when he hooked up with Bartolo Hernandez, the agent, and trainer Julio Estrada, who said they'd help him get to the US before a late October deadline that year to sign a White Sox contract worth $68 million. Abreu, who testified with the help of a Spanish translator, explains that before leaving Cuba for the US, he went to Haiti to receive fake residency documents and a phony passport under an alias.

Prosecutors explain that under free-agent and immigration rules for Cuban players, Abreu had to prove he lived in a different foreign country other than Cuba to score the lucrative US contract. But once he was on the plane headed to America, a Haitian "fixer" told him, he'd have to somehow get rid of the fake Haitian passport. And so "I went back to my seat … ordered … a Heineken beer, and then, little by little, I swallowed that first page of the passport" that contained his photo and phony name, he told the court. The AP explains that under the now-rescinded "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cuban immigrants back then were permitted to stay in the US even if they had no travel papers. Abreu said the same fixer helped his girlfriend (now wife), parents, and other family get to the US over the next few months—and that he paid millions to Hernandez and Estrada for their efforts. (More Chicago White Sox stories.)

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