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Sports agent receives five-year sentence

July 10, 2007|Kevin Baxter | Times Staff Writer

Chatsworth sports agent Gustavo "Gus" Dominguez was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for smuggling Cuban baseball players to the U.S.

The sentence was the mandatory minimum possible for Dominguez, 48, who was facing the possibility of more than 200 years in federal prison. A former pitcher at Cal State Northridge and co-founder of the Encino-based agency Total Sports International, Dominguez was found guilty in April of 21 felony counts of smuggling, conspiracy and harboring and transporting aliens for profit.

Dominguez also must pay a $2,100 assessment fee -- $100 for each guilty verdict -- and undergo three years of court supervision once he is released from prison.

However, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore declined to impose additional fines and recommended that Dominguez participate in a drug and alcohol program which, if completed successfully, could cut a year from his sentence. Defense attorney J. Stephen Salter said Dominguez "developed a bit of an alcohol issue" during the trial.

Moore also ruled that Dominguez may voluntarily surrender to prison officials in 60 days and will serve his sentence in a "camp-like" facility in Southern California. Salter, who had pleaded for leniency, said he was pleased with Moore's ruling but didn't rule out an appeal. The defense has until July 19 to challenge the verdict of the Key West, Fla., jury which, if it stands, could affect Dominguez's certification as an agent.

Dominguez, whose firm represents several professional baseball players including Chicago Cubs catcher Henry Blanco, is the first agent charged with smuggling Cuban baseball players to the U.S. Dominguez pioneered the representation of Cuban defectors in pro baseball and has worked with about three dozen in the last 16 years.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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