In 2009, when Raul Mondesi was running for mayor of his Dominican Republic hometown of San Cristobal, his appeal to voters appeared to center on his fame as a former Dodgers star.
In a visit to San Cristobal during the campaign, Times staff writer Kevin Baxter wrote of Mondesi: “The closest he comes to a campaign pledge is repeating a desire to build a basketball court in every neighborhood.”
The story is worth a read, because Mondesi is neither the first nor the last politician to capitalize on fame and fortune with little grasp of complex issues and how to solve them. We can say this much: Mondesi was elected, and his political life did not end well.
On Wednesday, Mondesi was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined 60 million pesos (approximately $1.3 million) for corruption, including the misuse of 300 million pesos in public funds, according to Dominican news reports.
Mondesi also was prohibited from holding public office for 10 years. His six-year term as mayor expired last year; he had been under house arrest since February.
Mondesi, 46, played 13 years in the major leagues, the first seven with the Dodgers. He won the National League rookie of the year award in 1994, an outfielder with the ability to hit for average and power, blessed with speed and an exceptionally strong arm. He was a two-time Gold Glove winner.
He played 1,525 games in the major leagues but never appeared in the World Series. His son, Raul Jr., an infielder with the Kansas City Royals, was the first player to make his major league debut in the World Series.
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