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TACOMA – The wife of former Mariners outfielder Carlos Peguero pleaded guilty to federal wire-fraud charges Friday for using a credit card belonging to the wife of pitcher Felix Hernandez to make tens of thousands of dollars of unauthorized online purchases.

Maria Jacqueline Peguero pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to three counts of wire fraud for a trio of charges made on a credit card belonging to Sandra Hernandez in September 2012 for online purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. Those charges totaled more than $8,200, according to an information filed with the court on Jan. 31.

Overall, federal prosecutors say Peguero rolled up nearly $180,000 in unauthorized purchases between June and September 2012 after befriending Sandra Hernandez, wife of the Mariners’ $25 million-a-year starting pitcher and former Cy Young Award winner.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

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Carlos Peguero, 26, who was traded last week to the Kansas City Royals,

sat in the back of the courtroom on Friday, but declined to comment on his wife’s troubles.

Maria Peguero is scheduled to be sentenced May 12 by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle. In a plea agreement filed Friday, federal prosecutors said they would not recommend a specific prison sentence, but would agree to a sentence at the lower end of the sentencing range that will be calculated by Settle after being briefed by both parties and completion of a pre-sentence report.

Peguero was represented at the hearing by a federal public defender, Jerome Kuh, but court documents indicate she will have to reimburse the government at a rate of $110 an hour for his time.

The plea agreement says she will also have to pay $191,000 in restitution — roughly $180,000 to Saks Fifth Avenue and $11,000 to Nordstrom.

Federal charges allege that Saks Fifth Avenue in New York began to scrutinize a series of online purchases made with a Morgan Stanley credit card through an account belonging to a “Jackie Peguero” because the billing and shipping addresses were different.

The complaint does not identify Sandra Hernandez or her husband by name. The Seattle Times confirmed their identities through multiple sources.

The charges say Morgan Stanley bank reimbursed the victims after the fraud was discovered.

According to the complaint, Sandra Hernandez asked Peguero for help making online purchases “due to (Hernandez’s) limited understanding of the English language.” Hernandez told investigators that Peguero had access to her credit cards during that time.

According to the complaint, the purchases went on for more than three months, during which time Peguero contacted Sandra Hernandez to ask if she ever reviewed her credit-card statements. Hernandez told Peguero “that she did not usually review the bills because their finances were managed by a third party,” according to the complaint.

Mike Carter:

or 206-464-3706.

Information from Seattle Times

archives is included in this report.

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