Former Tampa Bay Rays player Elijah Dukes could face 90 days in jail if he fails to pay $39,767 in legal fees for his estranged wife, her attorney said today.
Carlos Ramirez, who represents NiShea Dukes, said Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Mark Wolfe ordered the baseball player to pay the money by 5 p.m. June 5 or face jail time.
The ruling was in response to a motion for civil contempt filed against Dukes over the unpaid fees. He did not attend the hearing and calls to his attorney were not immediately returned.
"We just have to get it across to Mr. Dukes that being a baseball player doesn't give him any special status," Ramirez said.
Attorney Grady Irvin, who represents Elijah Dukes, said his client will comply with the court order.
"If Elijah Dukes receives an order from the court to pay those fees, he'll borrow the money if he has to and pay it. Elijah has come so far. He has gotten his baseball career in order, he went last year without incident, he is having a decent season and he is not behind on his child support. Today was just all about greed from [his wife's] attorneys."
The couple's marital problems became national news in 2007 when he was accused of threatening her and sending a photo of a handgun to her cell phone.
Dukes was an outfielder at the time for the Rays but was suspended and subsequently traded to the Washington Nationals. His salary this season is a reported $411,500.