Urbina sentenced to prison in Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Former Major League Baseball pitcher Ugueth Urbina was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the attempted murder of five workers on his family's ranch, the Attorney General's Office announced Wednesday.
|In 2005, Ignacio Serrano, a sports reporter for El Nacional in Caracas, Venezuela, and a correspondent with ESPNdeportes.com, and ESPN's Pedro Gomez conducted an exclusive interview with Ugueth Urbina in his jail cell in Venezuela. Story|
Urbina, a former pitcher with the Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies, was also found guilty of illegal deprivation of liberty and violating a prohibition against taking justice into his own hands during a dispute over a gun on Oct. 16, 2005, according to a statement from the Attorney General's Office.
"I am very disappointed and upset," his agent, Peter Greenberg, told ESPN. "We're hopeful that the judicial process will exonerate Uggie. I firmly believe he's innocent."
The 33-year-old free agent was accused of joining a group of men in attacking and injuring workers with machetes and pouring gasoline on them at his family's ranch, located about 25 miles south of Caracas.
"The ruling was too severe," said Jose Antonio Baez, a former attorney who represented Urbina.
Urbina repeatedly has denied involvement in the violent attack, saying he was sleeping at the time.
But Wuanyer Perez, the attorney for the accusers, told ESPN that "justice has been served" and indicated that his clients will seek damages in civil court.
"We think it is an excellent sentence. The victims consider this an important example that anyone with power, influence and money is not above the law," Perez said. "It is an example for the entire world, not just for Venezuela, that everyone is on equal ground when it comes to the law and justice."
"There is an appeal process here in Venezuela and we are prepared to answer if they decide to take that route," Perez said. "Now that the criminal case is concluded, we are prepared to take this case to the civil side and we will seek damages. The victims have gotten better, but the psychological impact remains."
The pitcher's lawyer, Jose Luis Tamayo, has said that Urbina surprised the workers by showing up at his ranch that night while they were bathing in the pool without permission. Urbina spoke sharply to them, but later left and went to sleep, according to Tamayo.
Urbina, a two-time All-Star, last pitched in the major leagues with the Phillies in 2005. He's 30th on the all-time saves list with 237. He had two saves in the 2003 World Series for the victorious Marlins.
In 11 major league seasons with the Expos, Boston Red Sox, Rangers, Marlins, Tigers and Phillies, Urbina went 44-49 with a 3.45 ERA. He led the National League with 41 saves in 1999 with the Expos and was third in the AL with 40 saves for the Red Sox in 2002.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.