Chicago White Sox first baseman José Abreu admitted that he traveled to the U.S. on a fake passport and destroyed the document by eating it on his flight into the country.
Abreu’s admission came as part of testimony at the trial of Florida sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and baseball trainer Julio Estrada who stand accused of alien smuggling and conspiracy, USA Today reports.
The 2014 All-Star said that he entered the U.S. on a fake passport because he was afraid he would miss out on his $68 million contract with the Sox.
Abreu, a Cuban national, defected to the U.S. in August of 2013 with the prospects of signing with Major League Baseball after a notable career in Cuban baseball.
The player said that after boarding a flight from Haiti to Miami, Florida, he slowly began to tear up and eat parts of the passport that featured a false name and other information.
“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.
“If I had not been there on that particular day, the deadline, then the contract would not be executed and would no longer be valid,” Abreu said in court. “We had to be in Chicago to sign the contract.”
Abreu was granted partial immunity for his testimony, and was joined on the witness stand by several other former Cuban players including Adeiny Hechavarria of the Miami Marlins and Leonys Martin of the Seattle Mariners.
The 2014 American League Rookie of the Year admitted that he and his family were smuggled out of Cuba by speedboat to Haiti then took a flight to the U.S.
Once Abreu made it to the U.S. he was able to stay due to the government’s “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy.
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