Former MLB shortstop charged with insurance fraud, accused of staging car crash in Florida

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Former big-league shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who appeared in parts of nine MLB seasons, is facing up to 10 years in prison if he’s convicted following an arrest last week in Miami-Dade County on several charges. Those include staged accident, insurance fraud, organized scheme to defraud, and grand theft, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis announced

Betancourt, 42, is alleged to have been part of a four-person scheme that staged a car crash and faked injuries to defraud Kemper Insurance. The state’s investigation found that “after the accident report date, all four individuals purportedly sought treatment and physical therapy for injuries they never sustained regarding the accident,” according to a press release. “Kemper Insurance was billed over $61,000 from the two clinics and paid out over $22,800 for therapy billing of which none of the four individuals were entitled.”

“It doesn’t matter how clever you think your scheme may be, if you commit fraud in Florida, you will be caught and brought to justice,” Patronis said in a statement. “Staging accidents is incredibly dangerous and fraud like this costs every Floridian in the form of higher auto insurance premiums. We must continue to work together to do everything we can to uncover these fraud schemes and bring these scam artists to justice.”

Betancourt spent most of his career with the Seattle Mariners, though he also suited up for the Kansas City Royals and the Milwaukee Brewers, whom he joined as part of the six-player swap that also included Zack Greinke. Overall, he hit .261/.285/.388 (80 OPS+) with 80 home runs and 30 stolen bases. 

Although Betancourt made his final big-league appearance in 2013, he continued to play professionally for another handful of years. He took turns playing in Japan, Mexico, and on the winter-league circuit. His final recorded appearances came as part of Aguilas de Mexicali during the 2018-19 Mexican Pacific Winter League.

Betancourt was estimated to have earned nearly $16 million throughout his playing career, according to Baseball Reference’s salary database.

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