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INS Pursues Rockies’ Astacio Case

March 3, 2000

DENVER (AP) _ Colorado pitcher Pedro Astacio faces deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service because of his guilty plea to an assault charge.

Astacio, from the Dominican Republic, received a two-year deferred judgment on Jan. 28 but the federal law considers that the same as a conviction. The INS told KCNC-TV in Denver on Thursday that its case began after the plea.

Under federal law, immigrants convicted of domestic violence and other offenses are subject to deportation.

``As the facts stand now, the government is saying that Mr. Astacio is deportable in virtue of the domestic violence offense, and we will pursue that,″ INS District Director Joe Greene told the TV station.

``I live in Colorado too, and I root for the Rockies like everybody else. But the law is very clear on this. These actions were brought about by the individual that we are citing here, and we have to go forward.

``He could lose his legal residence in the United States, and he could be deported.″

Astacio, working out at the Rockies training camp in Tucson, Ariz., said he couldn’t really clarify anything.

``Right now, we don’t have any comment about the situation now. We’re going to find out what is going on,″ he said.

Harvey Steinberg, Astacio’s lawyer, said he was working on the situation.

``We had hoped that we could resolve this matter in such a way that would be fair to all people involved,″ he said. ``Unfortunately, that hasn’t taken place.″

The Rockies backed their pitcher.

``We had a conversation last week about it, so it’s not as big a surprise as it would be to some other people,″ general manager Dan O’Dowd said. ``But, ultimately, other than to support Pedro through this process, we feel very confident that his attorney has a firm handle on it and, other than that, we don’t have a whole lot to say about it. We feel confident in the outcome.″

Astacio’s lawyers are due in court next week to argue that his deferred judgment, and his guilty plea should be withdrawn. INS officials said their next move would be dictated by what happens in that hearing in Arapahoe County Court.

Astacio, 30, led the Rockies in virtually every pitching category last season. He pleaded guilty in January to a misdemeanor charge of third-degree assault involving domestic violence. He was ordered to undergo domestic violence counseling and treatment.

Astacio had been arrested Aug. 11 after being accused of punching his estranged wife during an argument at their home. The status of that marriage was a subject of dispute in their separation. She said it was a common-law marriage; he said it wasn’t.

Ana Astacio complained to Greenwood Village police that he had struck her right eye. She said the blow came while he was visiting their two young sons at the home the couple shared until their separation June 23, 1999.

Astacio was gone when police arrived, but Ana Astacio had swelling and a red mark on her face, according to the police report.

Astacio turned himself in the next day, posted a $1,750 bond and was back on the field the same night.

He had been acquired by the Rockies in a 1997 trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Eric Young, and pitched the entire 1998 season in the Rockies rotation. He made a personal best 34 starts and topped 200 innings for the third straight season.

Last season, he was one of Colorado’s top pitchers, going 17-11 with a 5.04 ERA. He also pitched a team-leading 232 innings and was third in the National League with 210 strikeouts.

Astacio in 1998 agreed to a four-year contract extension worth about $23 million.

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