Five years ago, as Tablet and the Daily Mail reported today, current New York state Senate candidate Julia Salazar sued Kai Hernandez, the ex-wife of former Mets star and baseball announcer Keith Hernandez, for defamation after she said Salazar stole from her, tried to break into her bank account, and possibly claimed Salazar had an affair with her husband. There’s a lot in that sentence, but honestly, it’s just scratching the surface. This story involves a messy divorce, guns, drug paraphernalia including open syringes in the home where Kai Hernandez was living, the theft of $1,175 in Pottery Barn vouchers, alleged bank fraud, an arrest, a libel suit, and a settlement. Deadspin obtained the court documents and here’s the gist.
According to the documents, Salazar and her family lived next door to Keith and Kai in Jupiter, Florida. Salazar said she had known Keith since she was a young girl and considered him to be “a father figure.” In June 2010, Keith and Kai were living separately while going through a divorce: Keith “up north” and Kai in the Jupiter home with her new fiancée, Barry Silverman. In July 2010, Kai asked Salazar to house-sit and take care of her dogs for a week. Salazar agreed, but when she entered the house she said she found “drug paraphernalia to include open syringes, guns, and 25 Pottery Barn gift cards totaling $1,175.” Salazar called Keith, then 64, and he told her “to take photos of the objects found and to send him a list of the narcotics.” Salazar watched the house again for a month in September 2010. During this time, Keith told her that he would be coming to the house with his attorney. When he came to the house, Salazar told the attorney about the drugs, guns, and gift cards she had found previously.
In December of that same year, a woman attempted to access Kai’s bank account via phone. After listening to the recording, Kai determined it to be Salazar and called the police. She also suggested that Salazar had stolen cash from her home and was having an affair with her soon to be ex-husband, Keith.
In March 2011, when Salazar was home from Columbia University, she was called to the police station, where she thought she was going to be asked about the drugs and guns she had seen in Kai Hernandez’s house. Instead she was confronted with Kai’s allegation that she had stolen from her and attempted to access her bank account. Salazar was handcuffed, arrested, and required to give fingerprints; her mugshot was taken. Those criminal proceedings were later dropped. In 2013, Salazar sued Kai for defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional stress. Kai tried to get that suit dismissed, and after years of legal haggling—at one point Salazar filed a disclosure noting that an expert in “voice identification and analysis” was prepared to testify that the woman who had tried to access Kai’s bank account was not Salazar, but was in fact Kai—the two parties reached a settlement in March 2017, just before the case was scheduled to go to court.
In a statement to the Daily Mail, Salazar’s attorney Adam Hecht said:
“Kai Hernandez’s bizarre and fraudulent attempts to defame and victimize Julia were recognized as baseless by the authorities, who declined to file charges, and this matter was resolved with a monetary settlement in Julia’s favor.”
Kai Hernandez said she never accused her husband of an affair, and in a statement made to the Daily Mail through an SNY spokesperson, Keith Hernandez denied that there was any affair.
What can possibly be made of any of this, who knows. (One thing to note is that Tablet has seemingly had it out for Salazar for a while; its previous reporting, while antagonistic, resulted in some pretty good evidence that Salazar fudged aspects of her background.) It’s hard to believe that Hernandez would go to these delusional lengths to essentially frame Salazar, but at least as hard to believe that Salazar would pursue a lawsuit over the matter if she had indeed done what she was accused of. That these mutually irreconcilable claims were never tested in court, and the settlement, make it all the harder to make anything of any of it.
Salazar’s complaint is below: