CHULA VISTA, California — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza, who earned greater than $43 million over 14 seasons in Main League Baseball, denied allegations Wednesday that he’s a cocaine vendor.
Loaiza, sporting a khaki jail uniform, appeared in San Diego County Superior Courtroom in Chula Vista. He checked out his father and different members of the family earlier than getting into his plea of not responsible.
Prosecutors charged Loaiza, 46, with possession and transportation on the market of greater than 10 kilograms (22 kilos) of cocaine, a cocaine base or heroin and utilizing a false compartment to smuggle medicine.
The specification of greater than 10 kilograms might draw a stiffer penalty, as might the allegation that the medicine have been being saved at a townhome he leased that was inside a 1,000 ft from an elementary college.
Loaiza would resist 20 years and eight months in jail if convicted. The decide raised his bail to $250,000 after prosecutors argued that the Mexican pitcher poses a flight danger. Protection lawyer Janice Deaton agreed to the phrases, although it was unclear if the ex-pitcher would submit bail. Loaiza’s relations and Deaton left the courtroom with out talking to reporters.
Loaiza was arrested Friday on suspicion of drug smuggling after San Diego County Sheriff’s officers who pulled over the Mercedes Benz he was driving for a visitors violation discovered a “subtle” compartment used to cover contraband in the back of the automobile, in keeping with investigators.
They later obtained a search warrant for the house he rented within the seaside neighborhood of Imperial Seashore, the place officers mentioned packages have been discovered containing a white powder believed to be cocaine and that weighed a complete of 20 kilograms (44 kilos). The fees Loaiza pleaded to Wednesday are for any quantity over 10 kilograms, prosecutors mentioned.
Loaiza performed for quite a few MLB groups from 1995 to 2008, included stints with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 document with the White Sox in 2003 and began within the All-Star Sport that yr.
Investigators have mentioned the arrest was a part of an ongoing narcotics probe however have offered few particulars about how a profitable baseball star grew to become linked to a case involving the transport and sale of medicine with an estimated worth of $500,000.
Legal protection lawyer David Shapiro, who has dealt with quite a few drug instances in San Diego however will not be representing Loaiza, mentioned this case is exclusive due to Loaiza’s fame as one in all Mexico’s most profitable pitchers.
“On the very least what it reveals is how Mexico’s drug tradition is infiltrating each side of life, whether or not he was related to folks doing it or doing it himself,” he mentioned.
Born in Tijuana, the Mexican metropolis throughout the border from San Diego, Loaiza grew to become a star in his native nation after marrying the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. The “Diva de la Banda” was thought of to be essentially the most profitable feminine singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional type, promoting greater than 15 million information and performing in actuality tv earlier than she was killed in a airplane crash in 2012.
Rivera filed for divorce shortly earlier than her loss of life, ending their two-year marriage.
Agent John Boggs, who represented Loaiza throughout his MLB profession, mentioned he had not seen Loaiza in additional than a yr however that he had heard he was concerned in a enterprise promoting Mexican-made hats.
“I really like Esteban,” Boggs instructed the San Diego Union-Tribune. “He is a terrific man with a giant coronary heart. Once more, I do not know what or why he’d be concerned on this. I do not know. He is a buddy, and I am sorry as heck to see what is going on on.”