Former Tampa Bay Devil Rays prospect and Creizman LLC client, Cristian Vasquez, was sentenced on January 20, 2012 in Brooklyn, New York federal court to seven months’ time served in a federal detention facility in connection with cocaine smuggling.
In a story that received both national and international media attention, Mr. Vasquez was arrested on June 29, 2011 at JFK International Airport in New York when Customs agents found 1.9 kilograms of cocaine hidden in sneakers packed in his luggage. The sentence Mr. Vasquez received was over two years less than the sentence recommended by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and over 19 years less than the maximum sentence under the federal narcotics laws.
Eric Creizman placed much of the responsibility of Vasquez’s crime squarely on Major League Baseball, arguing that it “recruits teenagers from the Dominican Republic, encouraging them to drop out of school with the promise of financial rewards and fame, but provides no safety net for these young players when they get injured.” In this case, Mr. Creizman said that “Mr. Vasquez was being paid pennies on the dollar for his services, and when he suffered an injury to his pitching arm, the team cut him.”
According to sentencing papers Mr. Creizman filed, Mr. Vasquez moved back to the Dominican Repuplic and found himself in a bleak situation, ”without an education, and with few employment prospects in an economy lacking sufficient opportunities even for the educated.” With a mother to support, and under enormous pressure, Vasquez, “then 20-years-old, turned to crime for the first time in his life,” Mr. Creizman said.
Federal prosecutors and the defense concurred that Mr. Vasquez took full responsibility for his offense immediately upon his arrest.
Mr. Creizman said that Mr. Vasquez’s favorable sentence was justified:
“It’s nothing new for people down on their luck to be enticed by the prospect of easy money. This case is uniquely tragic, however, in that Cristian did everything right for most of his life, sacrificing his childhood and his education to play in the major leagues. After working as hard as he did, Major League Baseball just tossed him out, with no means to make a living and no disability benefits to sustain him until he healed.
What’s equally tragic in this case is the enormous price Mr. Vasquez had to pay. As a result of his conviction, Cristian likely will never be allowed back into the Unites States, and therefore will never reap the rewards of his lifelong devotion to baseball, at least in this country. Cristian was not even 21 when he made this lapse in judgment and in the course of just days, made a decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life.”