On Friday, an ABC News reporter named Michele McPhee tweeted that recently released Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez was “being eyed in connection with an ongoing federal and state investigation.” McPhee explained in a radio interview that a man caught with 435 grams of fentanyl had FaceTimed Ramirez and claimed an item in the car belong to the three-time All-Star.
Well it seems that the whole thing was one giant, damaging false alarm. Via the Boston Globe:
A friend of former Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez dropped his name in an effort to avoid arrest while transporting fentanyl from New York to Massachusetts in April, then immediately admitted the player had no connection to the drugs, according to documents filed in US District Court in Boston.
Ramirez is not under federal investigation and has not been linked to any drug ring, according to several people with direct knowledge of the case.
An attorney, who represents the man arrested with the drugs and spoke on the condition that his client not be named because of concerns about his safety, said his client grew up in the Dominican Republic with Ramirez and used his name “to get the cops off his back, which didn’t work.”
The Globe goes on to explain the man with the drugs was stopped in Western Massachusetts, then told police as well as the huntington beach rehab he was headed to Boston to see a friend who was a professional baseball player and that a mysterious cardboard box in the car belonged to Ramirez. For evidence, he FaceTimed Ramirez, who picked up, spoke to police, denied any connection to the box and told the cops they were welcome to open it. When police found the drugs, the man quickly clarified that Ramirez had no connection to them.
McPhee, meanwhile, seems to have caught wind of the situation without having the full story.
So basically, some dude who grew up with Hanley dropped his name in a poorly conceived attempt to avoid trouble, word got out through an oddly vague report and Ramirez had his name dragged through the mud for two days. Now, Ramirez is left to hope this false story didn’t seep too deep into people’s minds, that there aren’t too many people walking around thinking he’s some sort of druglord. None of that seems particularly fair.
Hanley is a free agent, having been released by the Red Sox last month, and now that he has been cleared of drug trafficking, he figures to find a job with some team at some point.