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Feds Drop Probe of Orioles’ Hiring

August 16, 2001

BALTIMORE (AP) _ A U.S. Justice Department Justice investigation of the Baltimore Orioles found no evidence the team discriminated in its hiring practices.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos had been accused of refusing to sign Cuban defectors in order to maintain good relations with the government of Fidel Castro.

In a letter to Angelos released Thursday, John Trasvina, special counsel for immigration related unfair employment practices, informed the owner that the investigation had been closed.

``Our investigation has found no reasonable cause to believe that citizenship status discrimination has occurred,″ Trasvina wrote.

Angelos took the Orioles to Havana in 1999 to play the Cuban national team and arranged a reciprocal game in Baltimore.

The Washington Times reported in May of 2000 that Angelos was refusing to sign Cuban players in order to maintain a relationship with Castro. Angelos repeatedly denied the accusation.

U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms requested the Justice Department investigation and a similar probe by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which also found no evidence of discrimination by the Orioles.

``My interest, of course, is a sympathetic one for Cubans who manage to flee the repressive regime of Fidel Castro,″ Helms wrote in his letter to the EEOC.

Joe Kehoskie, an agent who has represented 11 Cuban defectors, said Thursday that numbers indicate a Cuban boycott by the Orioles.

``There have been between 50 and 55 Cuban defectors over the last ten years,″ Kehoskie said. ``It’s rather strange to me that the Orioles haven’t signed any of them.

``My phone has never rung from the Baltimore Orioles,″ he continued. ``They’ve never called, not an inquiry, not an e-mail, not a fax. They’ve never sent a scout for one of my Cuban players.″

Angelos said in a statement that ``the Orioles have been scrupulous in our signing of ballplayers, and we will continue to search out the best talent, no matter what a player’s origins may be.″

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