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More strikes against Almonte

Almonte's father charged with altering records

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Posted: Tuesday September 04, 2001 2:19 PM
Updated: Tuesday September 04, 2001 3:58 PM
  Danny Almonte Danny Almonte finished the seventh grade in the Dominican Republic in June. AP

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Danny Almonte's father was charged Tuesday with falsifying a birth certificate to make his son appear to be 12 when he actually was 14 -- and thus too old for Little League.

Felipe de Jesus Almonte "will be arrested as soon as he sets foot in this country," said Victor Romero, a public-records official in the Dominican Republic who determined the young pitcher's real age.

De Jesus, who is still in New York, faces three to five years in jail if convicted.

Also on Tuesday, school officials said Almonte was finishing seventh grade in the Dominican Republic up to June -- another reason he should not have qualified for Little League championships.

Almonte finished seventh grade June 15 at the Andres Bello Primary School, said Bolivar de Luna Gomez, vice principal of the school in Moca, a small farming town 90 miles north of Santo Domingo.

That would have prevented the boy from playing the required six Little League games to qualify for the championships.

"We can't lie," Gomez told The Associated Press. "He was here and the records show this. It is the truth, and if authorities ask us to turn the documents in, we are ready to do so."

The New York Times first reported Almonte's status at the Dominican Republic school on Tuesday.

Joann Dalmau, spokeswoman for Almonte's Bronx, N.Y.-based Rolando Paulino All-Stars team, denied the boy had lived in the Dominican Republic until June.

"I saw him in May here, playing in a regular-season game," she said. "So there was no way he was in the Dominican Republic in June."

But Romero confirmed Almonte had been in a Dominican school until June.

The New York team was stripped of its third-place finish in the World Series after Almonte's real age was revealed Friday. Little League also voided all of Almonte's records, including a perfect game.

Depending on the weather, Little League seasons start as early as February and as late as June 1, with the all-star tournament that leads to the Little League World Series beginning July 1. To be on a league's all-star team and participate in the tournament, a player must have played in at least half of his team's games by June 15.

Little League spokesman Lance Van Auken said that would have been impossible for Almonte.

"If he wasn't in the country until after June 15, then it seems impossible that he would have been eligible under those conditions as well," Van Auken said. "It adds to the weight of evidence against Rolando Paulino and anyone else who might have known Danny was ineligible."

Three of the boys on the team were born in the Dominican Republic, one was born in Puerto Rico, and the rest are of Dominican descent.

Van Auken said the president of each league -- in Almonte's case, Paulino -- signs an affidavit verifying the eligibility of each player in the tournament.

Paulino, founder and president of the league that bears his name, was banned for life from any affiliation with Little League because of the age controversy, as was Almonte's father.

Gomez also confirmed Almonte is registered as having been born on April 7, 1987, as the government ruled Friday.

Jose Rojas, Almonte's uncle who initially said the boy had been in the United States for nearly two years, retracted his earlier statement, saying it was possible he was in Moca until June.

Hector Pereira, president of the Dominican Baseball Federation, appealed Tuesday on behalf of the boy, saying "Danny is a phenomenon and anything around him is news, but if they continue investigating, they can psychologically harm the kid."


 
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