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Baseball Union Concludes Melky Cabrera’s Agents Were Unaware Of Phony Website Scheme

The following article is a guest contribution by Benjamin Haynes, Esq.   Haynes is a former Division 1 Basketball Player at Oral Roberts University and currently practices law in the State of Florida.

San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera can continue to be represented by Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES. Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games this past season after he tested positive for testosterone. Back on August 19, 2012, the New York Daily News reported that Cabrera and at least one of his handlers launched an elaborate scheme to get his positive test thrown out, including the creation of a web site that was to advertise a topical cream, which does not exist.

Juan Nunez, whom Seth and Sam Levinson of ACES claimed was a firm consultant and not an employee, took responsibility for fabricating this website in which Cabrera was intending to rely on. Melky initially believed he could have his positive test overturned by attempting to prove he ingested a banned substance through no fault of his own.

This odd website stirred an investigation from the Major League Baseball Players Association. After a thorough investigation, union head Michael Weiner reported that, “none of the ACES principals were involved in or had knowledge of the Cabrera scheme,” meaning the union concludes Seth and Sam Levinson did not have knowledge about this website created by Juan Nunez.

The union further concluded that Sam and Seth failed to manage and supervise employees of ACES sufficiently, specifically Juan Nunez. Sam and Seth were trying to assert that Nunez was an independent contractor and not an employee of ACES. This was because an employer has a duty to sufficiently supervise employees of a business. However, if one is deemed an independent contractor, an employer has much less of a burden to supervise the contractor’s activities. The union deemed Juan an employee of ACES, and therefore ruled that the Levinson brothers failed to supervise Juan sufficiently.

After the union’s findings were revealed, Seth Levinson stated, “We are pleased to have been cleared of wrongdoing by the players’ association after its thorough investigation, and we greatly appreciate the support we received from our players. For 27 years we have represented our clients with honesty and integrity and we will continue to aggressively assert and protect the rights and interests of our players.”

The union stated that punishment towards Sam and Seth has been handed out, but would not disclose the specifics. Michael Weiner did say that ACES remains eligible to represent players.

Juan Nunez isn’t so lucky. Nunez has been banned from all MLB clubhouses and has further been indefinitely barred from certification as an agent of any kind.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.