It is not every day that your favorite childhood baseball player gets sentenced to prison in the Dominican Republic for embezzling more than U.S. $6 million, but here we are. Raul Mondesi, who until recently had been serving as mayor of San Cristobal, was sentenced to eight years, and fined upwards of U.S. $1 million for corruption, according to various reports coming out of the Dominican Republic.
Mondesi was, at one time, the National League Rookie of the Year, and for quite a long time, one of the more exciting players in Major League Baseball. He did things like throw runners out at first base from right field, and attempt insane straight steals of home. He once tied a game in the ninth inning with a grand slam, then walked it off with another home run in the 11th inning. He made an All Star team, and twice hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases in the same season. At Dodger Stadium, he would raise the sleeve on his right arm and reveal a tattoo of a cannon to the fans sitting near right field.
He was also mercurial and temperamental. Mike Piazza called him the most superstitious player he'd ever seen. He once said this about Dodger management:
"I'm tired of all this. I told my agent to get me the fuck out of here as soon as possible. I can't take this anymore. I've had to deal with this all year. I told them to trade me because I don't want to fucking be here. Fuck Davey and fuck Malone, they try to put all of our problems on me. They're trying to say that all this shit is my fault. That's the way they feel. Fine. Just get me out of here. Fuck Davey. Fuck Malone. Fuck both of them."
Mondesi was promptly traded to Toronto.
The second half of Mondesi's baseball career was mired by a legal dispute back home—perhaps a harbinger of things to come. A former player, Mario Guerrero, sued Mondesi for one percent of his career MLB earnings, which Guerrero said Mondesi had agreed to pay him in exchange for helping Mondesi become a major leaguer. In 2004, Mondesi left the Pittsburgh Pirates to deal with the dispute.
The Pirates, displeased, wound up placing him on the restricted list, then eventually released him. After quick stops in Anaheim and Atlanta, his career was over.
In 2006, Mondesi was elected to the Dominican equivalent of the House of Representatives. He switched parties in 2007, and was elected mayor of San Cristobal in 2010. He was first investigated for corruption in 2014, after an audit of his municipal budget revealed massive discrepancies. Last year, he stated that he did not need to steal public money, because of the millions he made playing baseball.