Wander Franco may not be allowed back in the U.S.: report

Update: Wander Franco Facing Lesser Charges in Dominican Republic Case

In a recent development, Wander Franco, the Tampa Bay Rays shortstop, is now facing a lesser charge following further analysis of evidence by a judge in the Dominican Republic. The original accusations of commercial and sexual exploitation and money laundering have been lowered to sexual and psychological abuse, according to a judge’s resolution obtained by the Associated Press. This reduction in charges would significantly decrease Franco’s maximum sentence from 60 years to five years.

However, it is important to note that any sexually related charge involving a minor that carries a prison sentence of more than a year would still be considered a “crime of violence.” This means that if Franco is convicted, he would still be stripped of his visa and barred from entering the United States.

The case against Franco involves allegations of him having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl and providing her mother with a car and hush money for her consent. The U.S. government may revoke Franco’s visa on the grounds that he may be a threat to public safety, as suggested by former prosecutor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Javad Khazaeli.

Franco was released from jail on Monday but is still under investigation. If he is unable to enter the United States by Opening Day, the Rays would have to place him on the restricted list, which would bar him from receiving his pay. The team had already placed him on administrative leave in August 2023 when they first became aware of the allegations.

A conviction in the Dominican Republic case would be considered an aggravated felony under U.S. immigration law, leading to a permanent ban from the country. This would also require Franco to forfeit the remaining $174 million of his 11-year, $182 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Even a conviction for a lesser crime could result in a permanent ban if it is considered a “crime of violence” involving a minor punishable by more than a year in prison. Additionally, a legal clearing may still result in a league suspension under MLB’s domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse policy.

Franco currently holds a P-1A Athlete visa, which allows him free travel from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. to play baseball. However, Khazaeli argues that the U.S. government views this visa as an “extraordinary benefit” and places the burden on the athlete to prove their warranted admission into the country.

In conclusion, the latest update in Wander Franco’s case reveals a reduction in charges but still poses significant implications for his career and future in the United States. The legal proceedings and potential consequences will continue to unfold, impacting not only Franco but also the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

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