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The Collaborative Clearinghouse for Lawsuits and Other Claims Against ACE Group Insurance Companies

ACE Group Insurer Sued Over Bogus Baseball Identity

September 4th, 2013 - The Washington Nationals have called a foul ball against Westchester Fire Insurance Co. over its refusal to pay a claim for an alleged fraud scheme involving a recruited baseball player.

The Nationals sued the ACE Group unit as a result of a $1.4 million signing bonus they paid in 2006 to Esmailyn Gonzalez. He purportedly was a 16-year-old shortstop recruit from the Dominican Republic.

A February 2009 story in Sports Illustrated revealed that Gonzalez was in fact 20-year-old Carlos Alvarez Lugo. It said that a handler of the player in the Dominican Republic, his home country, was a childhood friend of Jose Rijo, who in 2006 was special assistant to Nationals general manager Jim Bowden.

In a report of the lawsuit in Bloomberg Lugo reportedly admitted his participation in the fraud and further said that he kicked back $300,000 of the bonus to Rijo. Before he was unmasked, Gonzalez/Lugo was named player of the year in 2008 while playing as a rookie in the Gulf Coast League.

The Nationals said in their suit that they more than likely would not have paid a signing bonus if they had known the true identity and age of their recruit. They said they reported the incident to Westchester as employee theft and fraud, which they said was covered under a commercial crime insurance policy the insurer had issued to the Nationals.

There was no indication in the suit as to the grounds that Westchester cited for refusing to pay the claim for $1 million.

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