Orioles general manager Mike Elias is under investigation for potential pension fraud involving director of pitching Chris Holt, according to the New York Daily News.
According to the Daily News report, Elias gave Holt pension benefits that are reserved for four full-time major-league coaches. Three big-league coaches — catching instructor Tim Cossins, third base coach Jose Flores and hitting coach Don Long — were given those benefits. Holt may have been ineligible for those benefits, according to the report, because he is not a full-time big-league coach.
Holt was one of the first hires Elias made after becoming the Orioles’ general manager in November 2018. Elias originally hired Holt to be the minor-league pitching coordinator. After the 2019 season, Elias promoted Holt to be the club’s director of pitching. Holt was slated to collaborate with the major-league staff in 2020 before the pandemic hit, but he ended up working exclusively at the club’s alternate site at Double-A Bowie.
A year on MLB’s pension plan provides medical benefits and life insurance, according to the Daily News, and a licensing check that averages between $40,000 and $60,000 per year. MLB’s six-person pension board is investigating the situation; if Elias knew Holt was ineligible for benefits but gave them to him anyway, “that could very well constitute pension fraud,” according to the report, and trigger significant penalties.
Elias just completed his second season as Orioles GM. He was the Houston Astros’ assistant GM under Jeff Luhnow prior to coming to Baltimore.
UPDATE: An MLB spokesman released a statement disputing the Daily News report, according to MASN Sports:
“Major League Baseball is completely comfortable with the Orioles’ coaching designations for the 2020 season, which are not only consistent with the terms of the pension plan but were approved in advance by MLB and shared prior to the start of the season with representatives from the Major League Baseball Players Association. The suggestion that there is an ongoing investigation that could result in discipline is simply false.”
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