CHICAGO -- David Wilder pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in Chicago on Friday for a scheme that involved kickbacks totaling approximately $400,000 from signing bonuses and contract buyouts paid to secure 23 prospective Latin American players between December 2004 and February 2008.
"I understand what I have done," said Wilder, who served as the White Sox Minor League director from late 2003 to 2006, when he became the team's senior director of player personnel until May 2008
Wilder, 50 and a California resident, was released on bond, with no sentencing date set by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle. According to a Chicago Tribune report, Wilder did not give a statement to reporters but his attorney, Thomas Beinert Jr., expressed Wilder's regret.
"He apologizes to the White Sox and any others that he harmed," Beinert said.
Jorge Oquendo Rivera and Victor Mateo, two former White Sox scouts, still face fraud charges. Oquendo was terminated by the White Sox in June 2007 for reasons unrelated to this investigation. Wilder and Mateo were terminated by the White Sox in May 2008 as a result of a Major League Baseball investigation which began at the request of the team.
When the indictments were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, the White Sox issued a statement commending the diligence and hard work shown by federal authorities and Major League Baseball.
The White Sox issued the following statement following Wilder's guilty plea.
"The Chicago White Sox are gratified but also saddened by today's admission of guilt by David Wilder and his plea agreement with the federal government. We are pleased that his case has been resolved and that he will face responsibility for his crimes, but we also remain saddened by the betrayal of trust, the involvement of innocent players, the abuse of the system, and the impact his criminal actions inflicted on this organization."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Being Ozzie Guillen and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.