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Mets Minor Leaguers Get Prison Term

December 21, 1998

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) _ Three minor league players for the New York Mets were sentenced to two years in prison and two years’ probation for their part in the gang-rape of a 17-year-old girl.

Jose Brea Tucent, 18, Natividad Tavarez, 19, and Milton Gonzalez, 18, all of the Dominican Republic, were released on bond pending their appeal.

Though prosecutors had requested 15 years in prison and 15 years’ probation for each of them, Circuit Judge C. Pfeiffer Trowbridge sentenced the three as youthful offenders Friday.

``This is not the most heinous case you could have for this statute,″ Trowbridge said.

The three were convicted in October of raping the girl at the Port St. Lucie Holiday Inn, where they were staying during the Mets’ extended spring training in April.

``I think the youthful offender treatment was created for a situation like this when you have teen-agers do something they shouldn’t have done but have no prison record,″ said attorney John Bruhn, who is defending Tucent.

But prosecutor Steve Levin argued that the gang rape was not ``some teen-agers doing a prank.″

``This is a crime of the worst degree,″ he said. ``It’s a crime where you can’t see the scar or the bullet wound.″

The victim was unable to come to Fort Pierce from New York to testify. In court, Levin read a letter she sent him.

``I’m trying to fight the battle inside that no one sees but me,″ Levin read. ``Deep inside I blame myself and hate myself for not stopping them.″

Two other suspects, Vincent Rosario, 19, and fellow player Ruddi De La Cruz, 19, are expected to go to trial in early January.

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