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Alleged con man facing more charges

11/28/2003 - Seattle Mariners

EVERETT, Wash. -- A man facing nine theft charges may soon
be charged with more offenses that investigators say can be traced
to his success in conning a Seattle Mariners pitcher.

Eddie W. Rivera, 31, jailed Monday for investigation of six
counts of first-degree theft, remained in custody Friday with bail
set at $150,000, according to the Snohomish County Jail's Web site.

Investigators said Rivera started by befriending Ryan Franklin
of Spiro, Okla., of the Mariners and arranging promotional
opportunities for him at a car dealership.

"He's very, very smooth," deputy prosecutor Jim Townsend said.
"He got into the clubhouse one day and talked himself into Ryan's
good graces."

Jay Franklin, 35, a baseball agent and older brother of the
Seattle pitcher, said Rivera conned him, too.

"That's what we get for being from Oklahoma and living in small
towns," Jay Franklin told The Herald of Everett. "All I can say
is if you're an honest-to-good person, stay away from him."

According to documents filed in court, Rivera used $146,000 of
his sports management company's money for personal expenses and
failed to make good on promises to other businesses and an
inventor.

After befriending the pitcher, Rivera flew to Oklahoma and
convinced Jay Franklin, a former employee of sports agent Scott
Boras, that he headed a big company that represented Hollywood
personalities but wanted to switch to sports management, focusing
on baseball.

"For a guy on the outside, (baseball is) a hard family to get
involved in," Jay Franklin said. "You have to know someone.

"Eddie snowed my brother and convinced others that he was an
upstanding, reputable citizen."

Rivera hung out with Ryan Franklin and lunched with catcher Ben
Davis and other Mariners, then falsely told car dealers and other
business owners he represented a number of Seattle players, Jay
Franklin said.

Besides fixing up Ryan Franklin with a promotional deal at an
auto dealership, Rivera arranged a car dealership promotion for
Benji Gil, a former Anaheim Angels player who told investigators he
was never paid for his endorsements, according to court documents.

Jay Franklin said he began investigating after he became
suspicious and learned through a newspaper clipping provided by
someone at a bank that Rivera had been charged in Snohomish County
with nine counts of theft in an unrelated case in 2001.

At that point, Jay Franklin said, he, his brother and a friend,
Jeff Frye, another investor, brought their concerns to Townsend and
sheriff's detective Matt Trafford, who filed the 16-page affidavit
that outlined the case against Rivera.