Former Mariners, Royals SS Yuniesky Betancourt arrested for allegedly staging car crash to collect insurance

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 29: Yuniesky Betancourt #3 of the Milwaukee Brewers looks on before the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 29, 2013 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Yuniesky Betancourt, former shortstop for the Mariners, Royals, and Brewers, was arrested last week in Miami and charged with insurance fraud and staging an accident. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) (Hannah Foslien via Getty Images)

Yuniesky Betancourt, the former MLB shortstop who hasn't played in the league since 2013, is one of four people who have been arrested and charged with insurance fraud for allegedly staging a car crash in Miami in order to collect the payout. Abel Vera, Nancy Mercedes Pena and Maura Perez were arrested along with Betancourt last week.

"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," Jimmy Patronis, Florida's chief financial officer, said in a news release. "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."

According to the release, Betancourt, Vera, Pena and Perez reported they were involved in a car crash on Dec. 6, 2022, to the police and their insurance company, Kemper Insurance. Subsequent state investigations revealed that the accident never took place, even though "all four individuals purportedly sought treatment and physical therapy for injuries they never sustained regarding the accident." Kemper Insurance was billed over $61,000 from two different clinics, and also paid out $22,800 for therapy billing.

Betancourt, 42, is originally from Cuba. He defected in late 2003, was signed by the Seattle Mariners just over a year later, and made his MLB debut in July 2005. The Mariners traded him to the Kansas City Royals midway through 2009, and he split the final four years of his career between the Royals and the Milwaukee Brewers. His last appearance in the majors was in 2013, but he also played in Japan and Mexico before becoming the first player to return to the Cuban national team after defecting. According to Baseball-Reference, Betancourt made nearly $16 million over his career.

If convicted, Betancourt and the others each face up to 10 years in prison.