Is there anyone connected to the Astros and Jeff Luhnow that didn’t cheat or do crimes?
We know all about former Astros GM Luhnow and the cheating scandal, and then there’s the Cardinals and Chris Correa with the hacking scandal (tied to Luhnow’s departure from the Cardinals and his claims that the Astros were hacking), and now there’s former Astros Assistant GM Mike Elias under investigation for pension fraud involving an employee he brought with him from the Astros.
EXCLUSIVE: Mike Elias may have escaped the Astros scandal, but he’s facing his own investigation for potential pension fraud. It could result in equally severe consequences. @bmadden1954 https://t.co/5058H1w5wk
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) October 24, 2020
Elias, whose time with the Astros overlapped with the cheating period, reportedly gave pension benefits to minor league pitching instructor Chris Holt, who is apparently ineligible for those benefits. Holt was one of just two former Astros employees Elias brought with him to the Orioles.
If Elias knew the pension qualification rules — that you have to be a fulltime, uniformed coach, which Holt never was — and if he then went ahead anyway and deliberately tried to slip him through over other qualified Oriole coaches, according to a long time baseball lawyer with experience in the MLB pension plan, that could very well constitute pension fraud. “Assuming this is found to be fact,” the lawyer said, “we’re talking about people being engaged in pension fraud here, something that affects not just the coaches who potentially got screwed but all the baseball retirees. There is certainly going to have to be retribution and, I would think, significant discipline.”
Among those who got “screwed” was first base coach Anthony Sanders, the only Black coach on the Orioles’ staff.
It’s going to be up to the six-member MLB pension board to determine Elias’ culpability.
Facts will be found, and culpability determined, yes, but as an outsider, it’s hard not to look at this stuff and just wonder if the whole Astros operation has been so dirty that cheating and lying and defrauding was part of the system. We’ll see, I guess, and we’ll also see what discipline comes for Elias and/or Holt.
UPDATE: MLB is looking to squash this one quickly:
MLB has made a statement about this story, saying it is "completely comfortable" with the O's pension designations for coaches, they were "approved in advance" by MLB and shared with MLBPA, and the idea there's an "investigation that could result in discipline is simply false." https://t.co/fY4388ZGim
— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) October 25, 2020