Law & Order (1990) s12e21 Episode Script

Foul Play

NARRATOR: In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories.
I'm getting too old for this.
Sammie, 3 o'clock.
Tell me about it.
Oh, man.
SAMMIE: Anybody home? Yeah, a dead guy.
ED: Who found him? A couple of water-tank workers said a ladder slipped off their truck.
What? And it bounced 40 feet? Entry wound's on the right side.
Singe marks on his shirt.
It must have been close range.
The M.
say when this happened? Sometime last night.
They can give you a better idea after the prelim.
Ed, check this out.
He's wearing a gold retirement ring.
Once upon a time the guy was on the job.
"Mike Drucker, Private Investigator.
" He's got an office in Midtown.
So what's he doing in a vacant apartment in Washington Heights? Holster's empty, the entry wound looks like a .
Yeah, we found a .
38 on the floor over there.
Shot with his own gun? We also found a .
25 under the radiator.
It wasn't loaded.
And we haven't found any slugs or shells.
All right, let's get both weapons down to Ballistics.
Let them sort it out.
Was this door locked when you guys got here? Yeah.
Super had to let us in.
No sign of forced entry.
The guy doesn't have a key, so somebody let him in.
He had a little help going out, too.
I've been the super here almost 6 years.
Nothing like this has ever happened.
Hear anything unusual last night? My apartment's in the basement.
You ever see this guy before? No.
Any idea how he might've gotten into the building? I keep fixing the deadbolt on the front door.
A week later it's broken again.
What about the apartment door? When our guys showed up it was locked.
Yeah, I had to let your men in.
Does anybody else have a key? Not as far as I know.
BRISCOE: How long has that apartment been vacant? Since August.
Did you get the keys back from the last tenant? That'd be a first.
The family moved out nine months ago.
Last name was Sandoval.
They leave a forwarding address? Venezuela according to the neighbors.
Cordova's running it down.
What about the victim, Drucker? Yeah, yeah.
He used to work for the RIP unit at the 15.
He retired, what five years ago.
He had a pretty decent arrest record.
So, was he on a case or up to no good? Ah, the boys that worked with him at the 15 say that he was a stand up guy.
Current address is Brooklyn.
No kids.
Ex moved to Sarasota.
How's the canvass going? Oh, we got nothing so far.
But the M.
puts the time of death between VAN BUREN: What about the guns? The .
38 was the murder weapon.
That was registered to Drucker.
25 wasn't loaded and hadn't been fired recently.
And the serial number's been filed down.
Has Latent worked up these weapons yet? ED: We got a partial on the .
Nothing on the other gun.
Well, someone walked into the apartment carrying that .
Why don't we find out what Drucker was doing up in Washington Heights at that hour? Like I said, Mr.
Drucker's hired mostly by lawyers.
They don't like him to keep many records.
You can't subpoena a conversation.
Did he have any troublesome cases? Saul Mandelbaum, skip trace.
Frank Leahy, a paper chase up in Westchester.
Were any of these divorces more hostile than others? They're all pretty hostile.
Well, how about something more recent? There is one case, the Shore divorce.
The wife calls here all the time.
Matter of fact, she called here twice yesterday.
You know why? She and Mr.
D never connected.
I called Mr.
Drucker because I was worried.
Kevin had called me and left a message to call him back.
Kevin's your ex? From your mouth to God's ears.
Anyway, he never calls.
He sounded angry and I just had the feeling he'd found out about the investigator.
So did you end up talking to him? I never called him back.
What is this all about? What's he done? Well, your investigator, Mr.
Drucker? He got killed last night.
Oh, my God.
Is there anything we should know about your husband, Mrs.
Shore? After five years of marriage, he tells me about this girl that he's seeing, Rachel somebody.
He serves me with papers the same day.
He expected me to sign them right then.
ED: But you said no? Drucker was looking into your husband's finances? Kevin's in real estate.
Most of his assets are in partnerships and holding companies.
Drucker was helping us locate them.
Is there any reason this investigation would lead to a building at 1512 Cabrini Boulevard at 178th Street? My lawyer mentioned something about my husband owning buildings in that area.
It's possible he owns that building.
Shore is very good at hiding his assets from my client.
How much are we talking about? Shore listed his net worth at 4.
5 million.
But I'm guessing he's worth twice that much.
And once Drucker uncovered those assets, you were gonna take him to the cleaners.
Sounds like you've been around the block, Detective.
Much smaller neighborhood.
Shore seemed to think her husband was aware of Drucker's investigation.
Could be.
We'd pierced some of the husband's holding companies.
Drucker had a connection at a bank where his financing came from.
A man named Chris Sowlakis.
Do you think it's possible that Sowlakis tipped Mr.
Shore off? I don't even know if Drucker ever met with the guy.
They were supposed to talk Friday.
Two days before he was killed.
Drucker came by with questions about Mr.
Shore's holdings, but I never told Mr.
Shore about him.
So, someone you don't know comes in asking about a client's accounts and you don't mention it to the client? Basic questions.
I didn't see the harm.
BRISCOE: How much did he pay you, Mr.
Sowlakis? I'm sorry? Information is currency.
And in Drucker's business it usually takes some to get it.
What you're suggesting is outrageous.
Calm down, did you know this guy Drucker got killed the other night? What are you talking about? BRISCOE: He was shot.
ED: And if it turns out you're withholding information, accessory to murder makes bribery seem pretty innocuous.
Look, I've already told the FHA everything I know.
The Federal Housing Authority was here investigating some of Shore's transactions too.
Did you tell Drucker about this? I didn't know the details myself but I pointed him in the right direction.
It's called flipping.
Basically a developer purchases a cheap property, makes superficial repairs on it then flips it by reselling at a vastly inflated price.
I thought that was the American way.
Not when the sale's based on a fraudulent appraisal.
The FHA insures the buyer based on the bogus appraisal.
Then the buyer gets in over his head, fixing what the developer should have, loses his home.
And Uncle Sam foots the bill.
And developers like Shore walk away with all the money.
You recognize him? Yeah, he was in here last week.
Said he was working for Mrs.
He asked a lot of questions I wouldn't answer.
Then wanted to see the appraisals.
BRISCOE: The ones you thought were bogus.
ED: You mind if we take a look? Matter of public record.
Did Drucker know about the flipping? I didn't tell him about it, but I got the feeling he knew something was hinky.
There's over two dozen appraisals here.
They're all done by the same person.
Seems Mr.
Shore found himself a friendly appraiser.
Rachel Glick.
Wasn't his girlfriend's name Rachel? Friendly appraiser is right.
Sorry, I don't recognize him.
So if I asked around your office, we wouldn't find anybody who's ever seen him before? Hey! We know about your relationship with Kevin Shore.
And about the appraisals you did for him.
I know he works for Kevin's wife.
So I didn't meet with him.
Worked for.
He was killed three days ago.
What? Right after he found out about some of those creative real estate deals you and Mr.
Shore put together.
ED: Did you tell him about Mr.
Drucker's visit, Rachel? I had nothing to do with anyone being killed.
Well, do you think your boyfriend might? I told Kevin this guy came by asking a lot of questions.
BRISCOE: What did he say? He got furious.
I told him I might lose my license.
But then Kevin said ED: Kevin said what? That he'd take care of it.
Kevin Shore? Yeah, can I help you? We need to talk to you about Mike Drucker.
Can we talk about this somewhere else? Yeah, why don't we go to our place? We'll finish this up later, okay? Much later.
Yes, I thought this guy was hired by my wife.
And yes, I called her to find out about him.
But I didn't shoot him.
Well, the way we understand it, there were millions of dollars at stake.
I don't have as much money as my wife thinks.
Yeah? What about your little flipping scam? Maybe I should call my lawyer.
Well, good.
Then both of y'all can tell us where you were on Monday night.
Yeah, and meantime, we can book you for murder.
Of course, the DA ain't gonna be as interested in what you got to say as we are.
I was home by myself.
What about Rachel? I don't see her every night.
Yeah, especially the nights when you shoot somebody.
Look, I told you I didn't shoot anyone.
Wait, that night a cop car pulled over an SUV across the street from my building.
So? I saw it from my window.
It was about 9:30.
They had this guy in handcuffs.
And I remember there was a ski rack on top of the car.
So that gets me off the hook, right? I put a call into the 23.
They got someone looking into that traffic stop.
If Drucker knew about this flipping scam, it would've given Shore's wife some heavy leverage in the divorce.
Good old fashioned blackmail.
Yeah, and it gives Shore a solid motive for shutting Drucker up.
But it wouldn't get the FHA off his back.
Well, he didn't know about that.
The FHA kept that under the radar.
So, Shore thought if he took care of Drucker before he turned up anything, no one would find out.
Any way to connect him to this vacant apartment? None of his holding companies have any ownership interest in the building.
Well, he had to get a key somewhere.
Well, we'll go back and talk to the Super.
Find out who handled the rentals.
We're the exclusive agent for several rental properties in Washington Heights, including 1512 Cabrini.
Who's your client? Building's owned by a small group of investors.
Would one of them be a guy named Kevin Shore? I've never heard of him.
ED: He's a developer.
Any prospective buyers looking at the building lately? No, just people looking to rent.
BRISCOE: Is it possible one of them might have gotten hold of a key? We never hand out a key to anyone, one of my agents is always present.
Lennie, check this out.
"Thanks for your support, Frank Leahy, Director.
" As in Frank Leahy from Drucker's files.
We sponsor a team in his league every year.
A Little League team? No, YBL Youth Baseball League.
We get some cheap advertising on the kid's jerseys.
Pulls in some business from the families in the league.
Anybody from the league rent in that building? Not that I know of.
Okay, thanks for your help.
Shore's story about the SUV checked out.
Which means he was probably home like he said.
Well, this guy Leahy's got a connection to the building, and to Drucker.
Well, maybe we were looking at the wrong file? Drucker's secretary told me when I called.
That's really too bad.
So you hired him to investigate a guy named Frank Leahy? Jason, choke up and lower your shoulder.
Yeah, I coach the all-star team here in Harrison.
Drucker was looking into some of the competition for us.
You hired a Pl to do your scouting? Well, we saw a kid play at one of our sectional games.
First base.
Man, this kid was a monster.
He could hit the ball a country mile.
I mean, it just seemed too good to be true.
You thought he was a ringer? Well, every time he came up to the plate someone would yell, "Hey, you dropped your car keys.
" Stuff like that.
And chances are we'll have to face this kid in the state tournament this year.
So you figure you get rid of the monster, it gives you a little edge.
Look, my kids practice their asses off all season for a chance to go to Nationals.
For some Spanish kid to show up out of nowhere I mean, it just isn't right.
Some Spanish kid? Well, I don't know if he's Puerto Rican or Mexican or what.
You know, half the kids on Leahy's team they don't even speak English.
As opposed to the Majors.
Look, we all have to play by the rules.
Poor kids or not.
ED: You mean, like the rules where you buy your kid his own personal pitching machine? BRISCOE: So, did Drucker find out anything out for you? Yeah, he called me a week ago.
He said he thought we were right on target.
BRISCOE: "Good luck to the YBL.
Manny Ramirez.
" Yeah, he gave me that in '97 when I first took over the League.
Back then I had four teams playing on a blacktop.
Now I got 32 teams in four age divisions.
Leahy? Do you recognize this man? No.
Why? He's a private investigator.
He was hired to look into one of your players.
This is the guy they found over on Cabrini? So you knew who he was.
I just read the paper.
Any of your players live over there? I don't think so.
You think what happened had something to do with one of my kids? Just because they're from the neighborhood, huh? We heard he was interested in the first baseman on your all-star team.
Ramiro Benitez.
Those people from Harrison.
How'd you know that? 'Cause they don't like to lose.
Especially to city kids, if you catch my drift.
You know, a couple of years ago, Scarsdale had a lefty throwing screwballs, cut sliders.
Nobody said boo.
How much money they paying this Pl? $8,000.
Like I said, they don't like to lose.
BRISCOE: And what about you? Ramiro's birth certificate's on file with the League.
Where'd that come from? His father, Victor, gave it to me.
He must've brought it with him from Honduras when he came in February.
Now where we can find him? His coach is running a practice today.
Victor likes to watch Ramiro work out.
High Bridge Park, (SPEAKING SPANISH) I got it! ED: He's your son? Yes.
He's got some pop in that bat.
You mind answering a few questions? What kind of questions? You come to this country for work, Mr.
Benitez? So my son can play baseball and to visit my cousin.
Your son looks a little old to be in this league.
He's 12.
He's big for his age.
You recognize this man? No.
Are you sure he wasn't at one of your kid's games? I did not see him.
You mind telling us where you were Monday night? I was home.
ED: Do you have anybody that can verify that? My son.
Well, he might be a little too young for us to just take his word for it.
If we have any more questions we'll be in touch.
This guy Victor brought his kid all the way from Honduras to play for this team.
Another team forked over eight grand to try and stop him.
Eight grand? It sounds like these people have a little too much time on their hands.
Hey, there's gold at the end of the rainbow.
Giambi signed with the Yanks for nearly 20 mil a year.
You know, Leahy told us that this kid's birth certificate was on file at the league's office.
So, to prove the father had motive, we gotta prove the kid's birth certificate's fake.
Which is what Drucker must have been trying to do.
Shades of Danny Almonte.
Except there no one was murdered.
You know, Drucker's file on Leahy lists a contact at the Honduran Consulate.
Well, the first time Mr.
Drucker came here he requested the boy's original Honduran birth certificate.
Did you get it for him? Well, I ordered him a certified copy from Registro Nacional de las Personae.
Then he came in to pick it up? Like a week later.
He seemed very concerned with its authenticity.
But the document was properly stamped with all the necessary signatures.
So Drucker left satisfied? No, not exactly, I wasn't able to help him with the other boy.
Which other boy? All he had was a name.
Miguel Soto.
He wanted information about the boy's visa and current address.
Did he tell you what the other kid had to do with Ramiro Benitez? No.
But I explained to him that we don't keep track of Honduran nationals once they're here.
That he would have to check with the INS.
Miguel Soto, age 14, arrived in the US from San Marcos, Honduras on a standard visa, February 1st.
That's the same month Ramiro Benitez came here.
Yeah, you mind running that name too? I already did.
He arrived the same day, from the same town.
You have a local address for Miguel? Aliens are required to inform us where they'll be staying in the US.
Wait a minute.
You sure about that? That's what he wrote on his I-94.
Well, that puts his apartment in the middle of the Hudson River.
Obviously Miguel Soto didn't want anybody to find him.
They both come from the same town.
We could try calling around down there, see if we find anybody with a legit address.
Or we can let Cordova do the walking.
Benitez? We're looking for Miguel Soto.
I'm sorry.
Who is that? I'll give you a hint.
According to his aunt in San Marcos, this is his apartment.
You must have the wrong address.
Yeah, and just by coincidence, you happen to open the door.
Miguel! Please, there is no one here.
Miguel, ven aqui.
(MIGUEL ANSWERING IN SPANISH) You want to tell us what's going on here? Who's the boy? This is my son Ramiro.
ED: Who just answered to the name Miguel? BRISCOE: I don't know.
Third base.
I don't understand.
Neither did Costello.
How old is your son, Victor? Twelve.
If he's 12, how come he's using another kid's name to play baseball? What do you mean? See, you're a bad liar.
Your son is 14, which makes him too old to play in the YBL.
He switched identities with a 12 year-old.
My son is 12.
Let's talk about your real problem, Victor.
Your fingerprints were found in the apartment where Mike Drucker was killed.
ED: He found out about your son, Victor? What happened? He ask you for money? (KNOCKING ON DOOR) Tom Kelly, from Legal Aid.
I've been assigned to represent Mr.
No more questions, Detectives.
What questions? We're talking baseball.
My office also represents his son Ramiro.
You mean Miguel.
Whatever you want to call him, he's off limits.
A passport we found in the father's apartment gives us dad's real name, Victor Soto.
He and his son were both using the same last name, Benitez.
What else did we find? We got six rounds of .
25 caliber ammunition.
That's the same caliber as the second gun that we found at the crime scene.
Any other forensics? VAN BUREN: His prints are on the doorknob.
So our theory is that he killed this guy over his kid's baseball team? I know it might not seem like much, but a team in the Westchester League, paid Drucker $8,000 to investigate the kid's age.
This isn't nickels and dimes.
Some of these kids are already being looked at by pro scouts.
A Little League team was on the cover of Sports Illustrated last year.
Can we prove Soto actually switched the two boys' identities? Well, we can't find the kid's passport.
And we can't talk to him.
He shares counsel with his father.
What about the kid he traded places with? The real Ramiro Benitez.
We're still tracking him down.
SERENA: I'll take care of that.
In the meantime, let's send the father down to Immigration while we put the pieces together.
We actually have three Miguel Soto's registered in the district.
But the ninth grader who goes here is the only one who's not a US citizen.
How's he doing at school? Struggling- Odds are he'll be held back.
Did you contact his guardian here? He lives with his grandmother, but she doesn't have a phone.
Miguel, I'm Serena Southerlyn.
Wilson tells me that you're having some trouble with your school work.
I think I know the reason.
What? Because you're two grades ahead of where you should be.
And to tell you the truth, you don't look like you belong in ninth grade.
I'm 14.
I don't think you are.
And I don't think your name's Miguel.
Miguel Soto is being held at an INS facility right now.
Why did you let another boy use your name? You could be in a lot of trouble too, Ramiro.
(SIGHS) He's my cousin.
Victor Soto's your uncle? Yes.
He took me here with Miguel.
To use your name and passport? So Miguel could play baseball.
Did your uncle force you to do this? No.
Everyone said Miguel could play baseball in America.
They said he could make a lot of money, then he can send it back to Honduras.
I wanted to help him.
JACK: This kid gave up his own identity so his cousin could play in a Little League? There's nothing little about it.
His entire family saw this kid's talent as their ticket out of poverty.
Pro teams are drafting with significant signing bonuses.
If you hit it, they will come.
Even to a dirt field in Washington Heights.
And, when Drucker was about to uncover what Soto was doing, Soto shot him.
Except Drucker was shot with his own gun.
And the fingerprints place Soto outside the apartment.
DD five indicates the apartment had an automatic lock.
How'd they get inside? Well, Drucker didn't have a key.
But, the realtor for the building did sponsor a team in the league.
Maybe the father got the key through one of his son's teammates.
Briscoe and Green asked the agent about that.
She said they aren't renting to anyone in the league.
Ever? Did any of the previous tenants have kids? Well, um, the last woman who lived here had a son.
How old? Twelve, 13.
Did he play Youth League baseball? Yeah, he did.
Tore up his leg real bad playing ball.
I think that's why they left.
It's too bad.
The guy who used to pick him up said the kid had a cannon for an arm.
Would you recognize this man if you saw him again? Yeah, he usually had a baseball hat on, and a Jersey.
Then once the Sandoval kid got hurt, I never saw him again.
Catcher Switch hitter.
Kid could throw a B.
from the crouch.
You know how hard that is? I can imagine.
Then one day, he's blocking the plate on a throw home.
The runner slides Bang, just like that, the kid's not a catcher anymore.
His career is over at 13? No high school or college coach wants to have a kid with a reconstructed knee.
And no one even pretends he needs an education.
Did you help Ricky Sandoval's mother find their apartment? I'm not in the real estate business.
No, but one of your sponsors is.
Did Mrs.
Sandoval give you a key to their apartment? You think because the kid's Latino, he's gotta be cheating.
You don't think he can beat these suburban kids fair and square? Did you know what Victor Soto was planning, Mr.
Leahy? I'm sorry.
But, I don't know nobody by that name.
Victor Benitez, then.
Look, the kid I know is 12 years old.
His birth certificate and name is on file with the league office.
Only they weren't his.
The kid who plays first base for your all-star team is Miguel Soto, not Ramiro Benitez.
He used his cousin's documents to pretend he was 12.
Look, all I can go by is what's given to me by the parent.
And what was given was to me was a birth certificate and the name "Ramiro Benitez.
" I got nothing more to say about the subject.
(INDISTINCT) (WHISTLE BLOWING) Oh, come on! What's the score? Legal Aid's up by six.
All free throws.
You know defense attorneys, they like to claim they've been fouled every chance they get.
How've you been making out? You know, I'm starting to think that Victor Soto may have had help getting into that apartment.
The man who runs the YBL is named Frank Leahy.
The last kid that lived there also played in his league.
You think Leahy's the one who got the father the key? Well, the Super can ID him as having been around the building.
You think Leahy knew what the father was planning? He'd certainly know the apartment was vacant.
Any chance we can track down this former player? He and his mother moved back to Venezuela.
We can't find them.
Well, we can't leverage the father's cooperation with a witness we don't have.
But, maybe we can with one who is here.
His son.
Won't matter if he can hit the long ball if the only place he's gonna be taking his cuts is in Honduras.
You want to try and get the father to talk to us by threatening to deport his son? The boy participated in an immigration fraud, we can ask the INS to permanently exclude him from the United States.
First, his father uses him as a pawn and now you want to.
He's 14, old enough to understand what he was doing was wrong.
An immigration exclusion is intended to keep out serious felons, not a child cheating in baseball.
We're not the ones who decided he was ready to play in the big leagues.
(WHISTLE BLOWS) (PLAYERS CHEER) By the way, I thought only Trial Bureau D.
's were eligible for this team.
When did Danny Washington transfer over from Investigations? (SIGHING) KELLY: Plea bargain? His fingerprints were found outside the crime scene.
The gun you say is his isn't even the murder weapon.
SERENA: Immigration Fraud.
KELLY: We're not too worried about that.
I'm sure Mr.
Soto would be anxious to return to his own country if it meant avoiding prison time here.
Only I'm not so sure his son would feel the same way.
Please, do not make trouble for Miguel.
I'd like not to, Mr.
Soto, but if you don't cooperate, I can have your son permanently excluded from the United States.
No YBL, no national tournaments, no scouts.
You're trying to blackmail him with his own son? What I'm doing is offering leniency to both of them in exchange for his cooperation.
His cooperation with what? We believe your client may have had some assistance in this crime.
KELLY: From who? From the man who runs his son's baseball league.
I think what I'm offering is more than fair, Mr.
A son's future, for his father's confession.
If I help you, do you promise not to do anything against Miguel? You have my word.
Victor, I strongly advise against What I did, I did for Miguel.
If he cannot play here, it will be for nothing.
Leahy said a man would say Miguel was too old to play.
What did he ask you to do? He gave me a gun.
He said I had to stop this man.
All I wanted was a better life for my son.
He says the shooting was accidental, and that's corroborated by the fact that he went to see Drucker with an empty gun.
So, all we have on him is a menacing charge.
And possession of bullets he left in his apartment.
Both misdemeanors.
But, there's no reason Leahy should walk away from this.
Just because, Victor Soto had a change of heart.
Leahy's state of mind was to have Drucker killed, and that's exactly what happened.
Can we prove that Leahy set up the meeting with Drucker? JACK: Phone records came up empty.
Is there any hard evidence that Leahy's involved? Just his connection to the murder scene through prior tenants.
JACK: Leahy's prints aren't on the gun the father says Leahy gave him.
So, our case would be based almost entirely on the shooter's own testimony.
On a shooter who we're not gonna prosecute for the homicide.
Which means we better be crystal clear about why Leahy was involved in this whole thing.
I ran the league till '98.
Leahy's people pushed me out.
"Leahy's people"? Frank convinced some of the parents that their kids were underachieving in the tournament.
Any truth to that? I thought the priorities were for the kids to learn some baseball, have some fun.
But, Leahy didn't see it that way? Leahy and the parents.
I heard they had to pull a couple of fathers off an umpire last week.
Yeah, my office prosecuted a hockey dad not too long ago.
So, I take it his teams are more successful now? Sure.
You play a few kids who don't live in the district, fly in a few players from out of the country.
The league officials claim they don't know about any of that.
They don't want to know.
They got too much to lose to acknowledge the corruption.
Like what? Television commitments, endorsements for the kids to wear logos on their uniforms.
Does any of this filter down to Leahy? His league gets some corporate sponsorships.
For operating expenses, equipment? Traveling around the world to find ballplayers, slipping the parents a few bucks.
You don't think the guy that finds the next Sammy Sosa isn't gonna get a major payday? I mean, some of these guys are breaking the bank.
Maybe part of it is about Frank's ego.
The other part is about the money.
So, all he has to do to get lucky is to find one kid.
Yeah, it's not just baseball.
I mean, look at Sara Hughes one day she's a 16-year-old amateur from Long Island, the next day she's on the cover of a Wheaties box.
Pretty good business to be in, especially if you get in on the ground floor.
Good business.
He exploited this father's desperation.
SERENA: He'll portray himself as a do-gooder to the jury.
Because even if the kids he finds never play an inning of professional baseball, a small signing bonus could change their lives.
Yeah, but what about the kids who are left behind? What about the kids who trade in their textbooks for baseball gloves and then they have nothing to show for it? The American Dream has to mean something more than winning a lottery.
Well, we may be swimming against the tide.
Since when has that ever stopped us? UMPIRE: Ball! Good eye, Jordy! Good eye! Wait for your pitch! Frank Leahy? Yeah? We have a warrant for your arrest.
A warrant? For what? It's not for stealing home.
Leahy saw me play baseball in Honduras last year.
JACK: Who were you playing for there? Just a little team.
It's not like here.
I guess I played good.
He came to see my father.
What about your mother? She was killed in Hurricane Mitch.
Were you present when Mr.
Leahy spoke to your father? Yes.
What did he tell him? He said I can come to America and play for his team.
He said he would pay for the airplane to New York.
JACK: That's all he said? MIGUEL: He said I can play in the minor league too.
That they can pay me a bonus, and maybe I will be good enough to make the Majors.
Did Mr.
Leahy tell you that you had to be 12 to play for him? Yes.
I told him I was 14.
He told my father to think of a way to get me into the league.
So, what did you do? My father said my cousin, Ramiro, would come with us to New York.
He said for me to change names with him.
Did you realize if you did that, you'd never be Miguel Soto again? My father fixed cars in my town.
He worked all of the time.
Baseball was a chance for us.
Even if I could not be Miguel Soto anymore.
(CLEARS THROAT) You, um You're old enough to understand what cheating is, aren't you, Miguel? Yes.
And you and your father decided to cheat, to make up this lie to advance your baseball career? Mr.
Leahy said it was how to get a contract.
So you blame this whole thing on him? He said for us to come here.
Now, we might get deported because we listened to Mr.
Isn't the only reason you might get deported because you were both caught cheating? Mr.
Drucker came to see one of Miguel's games.
He was asking many questions about my boy.
JACK: What kind of questions? The name of our town, the name of Miguel's mother.
Frank said he would soon know, he would find out Miguel was too old.
JACK: What, if anything, did Mr.
Leahy do next? VICTOR: Two days after, he came to my house.
He took a gun out of a bag.
He put it on the table.
I show you what has been previously marked as "People's Exhibit Number Eight.
" Yes, that is the gun.
Frank gave me a key, also, to the apartment.
(SIGHING) He said he made a plan for Mr.
Drucker to go there to get information about Miguel.
Then he pushed the gun to me.
He said, "You have to stop him, Victor.
" Did he say why? If Miguel cannot play baseball for him, he will not pay for us to live here.
He will take away my job to give it to another father.
We will have to go back to Honduras.
And, as a result of that conversation with Mr.
Leahy, what did you do? Before I went there, I took the bullets out, so I could just scare Mr.
Drucker with the gun.
JACK: What happened when you got there? Mr.
Drucker came in.
So, I point the gun at him.
I said if he tell anyone about my boy, I would hurt him.
But, he got his gun.
And then, we start to fight.
I hear a gun shoot.
There was blood on his hand, on the side of his shirt.
JACK: Did you ever tell Mr.
Leahy what had happened? VICTOR: The same night.
Frank said, "Everything will be okay.
"If I do not tell what I did.
" No one forced you to come to America, did they, Mr.
Soto? VICTOR: No.
You came here because you wanted to? I came to give my family a better life.
That is what a father does.
And what a father doesn't do, is bring his son into this country under a false name, let him lie and cheat to play baseball, threaten a man with a gun Mr.
Leahy told me to do all this.
Did the D.
ever charge you with murder? VICTOR: No.
He said if I testify, they will not charge me.
Oh? Did he make any other promises for your testimony? He promised not to stop Miguel to play baseball in America.
Forever? Because he lied to immigration? Yes.
Had to twist your arm to get you on the stand, huh, Mr.
Soto? I never gave Victor a gun.
And I certainly never told him to kill anyone.
Well, then why would he say you did? Victor lied to me.
I was given a birth certificate by a boy's father.
Why shouldn't I be able to trust that? COLLINS: There was a time, though, when you questioned it? There were rumors, someone's checking, you know, Miguel's age.
I asked Victor about it.
What did he tell you? Well, he got very nervous.
But he said it wasn't true.
And you continued to believe him? I stayed in the city where I was born in, so I could work with kids, help them achieve their dreams.
I wouldn't have done that if I didn't believe in people.
You don't just stay in the city though, do you, Mr.
Leahy? Fact is, besides going to Honduras, you travel the world looking for these kids.
Nicaragua, Venezuela, Taiwan I go where the kids are.
And who pays for it? My league has a few corporate sponsors.
Isn't that money supposed to buy baseball helmets and bats? Some of it does.
And the rest of it went to finance your international talent search? Victor Soto isn't the only person who stood to gain from Miguel's success, was he, Mr.
Leahy? I give to the community, I'm entitled to get something back.
And part of what you get back is a feeling of self-importance, of being a big man in the community? I work hard.
What's wrong with a little recognition? And aside from recognition, you stood to get a windfall if one of the players you recruited became a star? I invest time in these kids, okay? Just like some of you lawyers take contingency fees.
But, I wouldn't want to see a man dead over it.
Even if he threatened to expose you? I already said, I didn't know Miguel was 14.
But if it was discovered that you did, you'd lose your little power base in the neighborhood wouldn't you? You'd be a nobody, unable to garner any media exposure, unable to recruit young ballplayers with the potential to make millions of dollars! FRANK: I just said, I didn't know.
Even though Miguel was clearly better than the other boys? When I see a player's got game, I suspect talent, not cheating.
A head taller than the others, faster than them, stronger than them! That's all part of the talent.
This isn't about talent, Mr.
It's about exploiting their dreams.
These kids and their families wanted them to play big-time baseball.
Nobody put a gun to their head.
Not until you gave them one.
Victor Soto dreamed of his son playing in the Major Leagues.
And based on his track record, he'd do or say absolutely anything to attain that dream.
He deceived the INS, the Board of Education, the Youth Baseball league and, when his dream was threatened, it was Victor Soto, not my client, who went to confront Mike Drucker with a gun.
And when Mr.
McCoy's arm-twisting put his son's entire baseball career in jeopardy, he lied in this courtroom to you.
Now, who had the most to lose here, ladies and gentlemen? If Mr.
Soto's son had stayed in the YBL, Frank Leahy might have won another trophy a few handshakes in his neighborhood.
Not the pie in the sky the prosecution would have you believe.
But, the Sotos, they'd be one step closer to the American Dream.
Many of us played youth sports in a time before television turned the 12-year-old down the street into an instant commodity.
We played to learn teamwork, and good sportsmanship and to have a good time.
Still, rather than wring our hands over our lost innocence, let's open our eyes.
Let's appreciate that when the stakes are raised exponentially, as they are in sports today, so is the desperation.
Frank Leahy, on paper, looks like a youth baseball volunteer, like a local hero, even.
But Mr.
Leahy was in the business of exploiting poor, and talented prospects with promises that could rarely be fulfilled.
He used Miguel and Victor Soto, he used their desperation.
He dangled the carrot of the American Dream in front of them to attain his own selfish goals.
And it came to be that one of those selfish goals was the murder of Mike Drucker! He isn't the one who pulled the trigger.
But he's the one who deserves to be punished.
JUDGE: Has the jury reached a verdict? We have, your Honor.
On the sole count of murder in the second degree, how do you find? We find the defendant guilty.
(MURMURING IN COURTROOM) Miguel Soto's on his way back to Honduras.
No more baseball here? After everything that's happened, his father just wanted to take him home.
You know, we did play hard ball with his kid's immigration status.
Don't worry, he'll be back.
Four years until he can play pro ball.
A lot can happen to a kid.
If he doesn't get his hands on an 18-year-old's birth certificate.