Former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Felipe Rivero is deported to Venezuela after serving two-year sentence for sexually assaulting a minor
Former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star pitcher Felipe Rivero was deported to his native Venezuela last Friday after serving a prison sentence for sexually assaulting a minor in Pennsylvania, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Tuesday.
Rivero, 32, was convicted in May 2021 on charges of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
The two-time All-Star, who legally changed his last name to Vázquez during the 2018 season to honor his sister, began a sexual relationship with the underage girl in 2017 that lasted nearly two years.
According to police, Rivero met the girl on social media when she was 13 years old in July 2017 and drove to her home in Scottsdale, Pennsylvania, about a month later while her parents were away.
He parked his car in front of the home and had sex with her before driving back to Pittsburgh for a game that day.
Former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Felipe Rivero was deported to Venezuela last Friday. Rivero spent two years in prison for sexually assaulting a minor from Scottsdale, Pennsylvania. He started the relationship with the girl in 2017, when she was 13, and it lasted almost two years before her mother discovered it and alerted police in Florida, where they had moved.
Felipe Rivero appeared in two All-Star Games as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He changed his last name to Vázquez in 201 in honor of his sister, who was also his agent, just months after the Pirates signed him to a four-year, $22.5 million extension.
Rivero and the teen exchanged explicit text messages and images until June 2019, when her mother found out and contacted authorities in Florida, where they had moved earlier that same year.
Rivero was arrested in Pennsylvania and also charged with assaulting the same minor in Florida and Missouri. Authorities in Florida had requested his extradition to try him on charges of possessing child pornography, including images the girl sent him.
Rivero told a court that the girl provided a digital identification card from Pennsylvania that showed she was 17. Authorities could not confirm his claim and the girl denied it was true.
Rivero was found guilty of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault on a person under the age of 16, corruption of a minor and ten charges related to child sexual abuse material.
The Court of Common Pleas of Westmore County in Pennsylvania sentenced him to two years in prison on August 17, 2021.
Felipe Rivero, who also pitched under the alias Felipe Vázquez, told the court during his trial that the teenager showed him a digital Pennsylvania ID card showing she was 17 years old. Police could not verify the claim, which the girl denied
Felipe Rivero was transferred to ICE custody in November 2021 and deported to Venezuela last Friday
Felipe Rivero (third from left) was selected to the All-Star Game in 2018 and 2019
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations filed a Notice of Immigration Detention with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in November 2021. An immigration judge ordered Rivero removed from the United States to Venezuela on May 31.
The former pitcher waived his right to appeal and was taken into custody by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Philadelphia on September 20.
“The removal of Rivero Blanco demonstrates ERO Philadelphia's commitment to protecting American persons from predators, regardless of their public persona or status,” Cammilla Wamsley, director of Enforcement and Removal Operations Philadelphia Field Office, said in a statement.
Rivero made his debut with the Washington National in 2015 and was traded to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline for closer Mark Melancon.
He had a breakout season in 2017 with 21 saves and a 1.67 ERA in 73 appearances.
The Pirates rewarded his stellar performance with a four-year, $22.5 million contract extension in January 2018. He was named to the 2018 All-Star game and finished the 2018 season with career-high 37 saves and a 2.70 ERA in 70 games.
He excelled the following season, earning a second All-Star Game appearance and making 28 saves while pitching to a career-best 1.65 ERA in 56 games before running into legal trouble.
He was arrested in September 2019 as the season ended and was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.
Rivero is estimated to have earned more than $22 million in his career.