Marlins reliever Renyel Pinto celebrated the end of the 2008 baseball season with a bling-buying spree that would make Lil Wayne blush. On October 29 that year, he picked out a total of 11 pieces at Cooper City's Major League Jewelers, including a $50,000 watch, a $52,000 chain, and a $45,000 bracelet, all encrusted in yellow diamonds.
The jeweler — whose baubles have adorned the wrists and necks of Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana, and 50 Cent — also comped Pinto a $17,500 bracelet.
The bill came to more than half of his $391,500 salary that year, leading us to believe Pinto's fiscal-planning skills are about as formidable as his curve ball, which looks as fat as a baked potato to professional hitters.
Problem: Pinto never paid, according to a suit recently filed by Major League Jewelers in Miami-Dade Civil Court. Demanding treble damages under Florida's civil theft statute, the jeweler claimed the pitcher owed $922,000, a touch under his 2010 salary of $1.075 million.
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The civil theft claim was dropped last week, and Pinto's attorney, George M. Evans, calls the accusation "defamatory." The pitcher is in the "process of resolving this," the lawyer says, adding that Pinto is not some sort of depraved diamond addict: "My belief is that he was very generously buying the jewelry for his friends."
But for a guy who makes $88,114.75 every two weeks during baseball season, Pinto sure has a lot of trouble keeping his obligations. Last year, he was arrested for ignoring a court date stemming from a driving infraction. He also was sued by his management company after he reneged on his agent's fee and failed to make good on $3,000 he borrowed to buy custom-tailored suits. The company, Coral Springs-based Pro-Management Resources, cleaned out his Northern Trust Bank of Florida account — which contained only $166.87, according to court records — and is garnishing his Marlins wages this season.
He's turning over a new leaf, though, says earnest esquire Evans: "He's doing the right thing now, and he's pitching well."
Maybe he's half-right. Pinto is currently languishing on the disabled list.