Lawyer: Dukes to meet court deadline

Updated: January 15, 2009, 9:28 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- The lawyer for Washington Nationals outfielder Elijah Dukes said the ballplayer expects to meet next week's deadline to pay more than $40,000 in court-ordered child support and alimony to his estranged wife.


Attorney Grady Irvin said Thursday that Dukes, 24, has not paid child support totaling just under $10,000 since September and that the remainder owed is temporary alimony the athlete was ordered to pay last year.

A Circuit Court judge has given Dukes until Jan. 23 to pay the money or spend 90 days in jail.

Irvin said Dukes, whose career has been marked by problems on and off the field, likely will borrow the money to satisfy the court order.

"There are a number of people who have seen the improvement that Elijah's made in his life, and it looks like there's going to be an arrangement for loans to be made for him to get him the money," Irvin said.

A telephone message left for attorney Rick Escobar, who represents NiShea Dukes, was not returned.

Irvin said Dukes paid about $36,000 in child support in 2008, making payments throughout the baseball season.

The outfielder stopped monthly child-support payments of just over $3,000 in October, and plans to contest in court whether Nishea Dukes is entitled to further alimony.

"He's late for October, he's late for November and he's late for December," Irvin said, adding that Dukes has fallen behind in part because he was unable to play winter ball this offseason while rehabbing an injury suffered with the Nationals.

The attorney said he intends to file a motion next week to stay further payment of alimony to the estranged wife, who Irvin said was married to Dukes less than a year before filing for divorce.

"He's made some bad financial decisions in his life. But he is now allowing money managers to assist him with his day-to-day financial situation, and to look out for him long term and make sure this issue isn't encountered in the future," Irvin said.

"He tried to do it himself last season, and that somewhat has gotten him in the situation he's in now."

Dukes has had various on- and off-field problems, including arrests for assault and marijuana possession, before the Nationals acquired him in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2008 season.

During his time in Tampa Bay's organization, the outfielder was suspended both in the majors and the minors for various confrontations with umpires, coaches and teammates.

In May 2007, he was held out of two games after the St. Petersburg Times reported his wife sought court protection when Dukes allegedly left a threatening message on her cell phone and sent a text message that included a picture of a gun.

Dukes batted .264 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs in 276 at-bats in his first season with Washington.

"The Nationals have been kept abreast of Elijah Dukes' financial situation through his advisors, agents and attorneys. When we acquired the player, we were aware that his obligations exceeded his income," Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said in a statement issued by a team spokesman.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press