Man who made fake website for Melky Cabrera sues agency for which he consulted

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In 2012, outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for PED use. His suspension was far more notable than most, however, in that it was discovered that a fictitious website for a nonexistent product was created, designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused his positive test.

The ruse was quickly discovered and Cabrera served his suspension. In the investigation which followed, a man named Juan Carlos Nunez, who had consulted for Cabrera’s agents, the ACES agency, helping them sign players out of the Dominican Republic, admitted that he created the website. He took full responsibility for it at the time and was banned from baseball. He was later arrested for helping recruit ballplayers for the disgraced Biogenesis lab and served three months in prison as a result of his role in the PED ring.

In the wake of the Cabrera/Nunez/Biogenesis scandal, the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, which has jurisdiction over agencies, investigated the ACES Agency, run by brothers Seth and Sam Levinson, and found no wrongdoing on its part. Now, six years after Nunez’s fall from grace, he has sued the agency and the Levinson brothers, reports Jon Heyman. A copy of the complaint can be found at the bottom of this article.

Nunez says in the suit that the ACES agency encouraged him to make under-the-table payments to players and their families to attract clients as well as help clients get steroids. He claims that the fake Cabrera website was created at the agency’s direction and that he agreed to take responsibility for it in exchange for cash payments. He alludes to an affidavit by convicted PEDs dealer Kirk Radomski, which he says support his claims, though the affidavit is not attached to the complaint and is, in fact, several years old. He claims that ACES has violated its agreement in this regard and otherwise breached its contract with him.

Sam and Seth Levinson have released the following statement in response to the suit:

While we have not yet seen the complaint, Juan Nunez is a convicted felon who spent time in federal prison. He betrayed his family, the players who trusted him and the very people who gave him an opportunity at a great life and career. He was terminated almost six (6) years ago, in August of 2012, after his betrayals came to light. ACES has been thoroughly investigated, and at every turn, has fully cooperated. The MLBPA exonerated us, all of the players cleared us, and it was conclusively proven that we did absolutely nothing wrong. This is nothing more than a shakedown by a man broken by his own criminal actions. We will take the fight to Mr. Nunez for any meritless and defamatory claims, and we will seek all available remedies and damages that his criminal behavior has caused.

Nunez certainly seems like he’ll have a tough road ahead of him. In addition to his previous statements taking full responsibility for the Cabrera affair and for his connections to Biogenesis, he purports to rely on another convicted felon, Radomski, to support his claims. Notably, Radomski’s statements in the form of the cited affidavit were already in possession of Major League Baseball and the MLBPA at the time ACES was under scrutiny, and yet the agency was still absolved of wrongdoing in all of it.

The wheels of justice will begin to turn now, and the case will commence, but based on what we know at this point, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Nunez is looking to make a buck here now that he’s unable to work in baseball.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.