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Gus Dominguez Cuban Baseball Player Smuggling Conviction Upheld

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld sports agent Gustavo "Gus" Dominguez's conviction for smuggling Cubans today. The Cubans in question, however, were not Cohibas and Montecristos, but Cuban baseball players.

Dominguez, who has represented many Cuban baseball players, including several defectors, was charged in 2006 with paying to smuggle athletes and their families to the U.S. from Cuba. Though Dominguez argued that he was trying to help oppressed athletes escape and seek asylum, prosecutors maintained that he was bringing athletes into the country for personal gain.

"Though this case involves a Beverly Hills sports agent and talented baseball players, it is remarkably similar to the human smuggling operations that ICE encounters every day," Julie Myers, an assistant secretary of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement to the AP when Dominguez was charged.

The jury found that Dominguez smuggled five players into the U.S. for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain. Based on this finding, the district court imposed a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. Dominguez appealed, arguing that the evidence did not support his convictions.

The Eleventh Circuit disagreed, finding that the evidence supported Dominguez's convictions of conspiracy to smuggle, aiding and abetting an attempted smuggle, and aiding and abetting a smuggle.

Today's Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling was not all bad news for Dominguez: Though the court upheld the smuggling conviction, it reversed Dominguez's convictions for transporting and harboring aliens.

The reversal will not affect Gus Dominguez's sentence; he was released from prison earlier this year for good behavior, according to Sports Illustrated.

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