Mets closer Jeurys Familia resolved the legal side of his alleged domestic assault incident Thursday when a New Jersey prosecutor dismissed the case against the All-Star pitcher in Fort Lee Municipal Court and a judge signed an expungement application.
Familia still faces possible discipline from Major League Baseball, however, if it is determined he violated the league’s domestic violence policy.
“I have signed it and given it to the court administrator. Good luck to both of you and have a nice holiday,” Judge John DeSheplo told Familia and his wife Bianca Rivas, the alleged victim.
The couple, who have one young son and have been together five years, then left the courthouse through a side door, got into a waiting white Range Rover and took off without talking to the media.
“We’re happy that the case is resolved,” said Paul Brickfield, Familia’s defense attorney.
However, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the authority to suspend players deemed to have violated MLB’s domestic violence policy, even if the player is never charged or convicted in any criminal matter.
Pittsburgh sports attorney Jay Reisinger, who is representing Familia for the baseball side of his case, was present at Thursday’s hearing and said afterward that the dismissal of the criminal matter will “play into the process” of MLB’s investigation and eventual decision on whether Familia is punished.
“The MLB process will play out as it does in the normal course of business under the domestic violence program,” said Reisinger, who added that the criminal case records will be removed after the judge signed the expungement order. It’s unlikely any decision from baseball on Familia would happen before the end of 2016.
The Mets said in a statement Thursday that they “will await the outcome of MLB’s investigation.”
Familia, 27, arrived at the courthouse together with Rivas shortly before 9 a.m., and prosecutor Arthur Balsamo later met with Rivas behind closed doors before the start of the hearing. Rivas and her attorney, Cathy Fleming, had requested last month that Balsamo dismiss the case.
Familia’s case was the first on the docket Thursday.
“(Rivas) is steadfast in her wish that the matter be dismissed and that the defendant not be prosecuted for simple assault,” said Balsamo, who added that in reviewing Familia’s background, he found Familia had committed no prior acts of domestic violence.
The simple assault charge Familia faced is the equivalent to a misdemeanor under New Jersey law, and if Familia was convicted, he faced a maximum penalty of six months in jail, a $1,000 fine and two years’ probation.
Reisinger also represented Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman in his domestic violence case, and Chapman served a 30-game suspension to start the 2016 season, when the Cuban lefty was first playing for the Yankees. Familia’s teammate Jose Reyes served a 52-game suspension, also earlier this year, stemming from his domestic violence case. Reyes’ Hawaii criminal case was dismissed when Reyes’ wife refused to cooperate with prosecutors.
Dominican righthander Familia was arrested early Oct. 31 at his Fort Lee home after his wife placed a 911 call and told a dispatcher that Familia “is going crazy” and was “drunk.” According to a complaint, Rivas (whose name was redacted in the document) had “visible injuries” which included “a scratch to the chest and bruise to the right cheek.”
Balsamo said Thursday that during discovery, Rivas admitted that the scratch on her chest was due to the couple’s 18-month-old son. Balsamo said that photos from discovery showed two knives on the floor of the couple’s home but Rivas told Balsamo that her husband had used them to “wedge the door closed.”
A no contact order was entered after Familia’s arrest, but was lifted during his first court appearance Nov. 10, when Familia pleaded not guilty to the charges. Familia and Rivas left the courtroom that day holding hands and later walked arm in arm to their car.
Judge DeSheplo asked Rivas Thursday if she is “in fear of your life or safety at this point in time?”
Rivas replied, “No.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News