Federal Charges Filed In Miami-Based MLB Steroid Scandal
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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Anthony Bosch, the founder of the now defunct Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables which is accused of supplying performance enhancing drugs to more than a dozen Major League Baseball players including New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, has bonded out of jail.
He has pleaded not guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge. His bond had been set at $100,000. He faces up to 10 years in prison, but could be sentenced to far less than that under the terms of a plea agreement filed Tuesday.
Bosch surrendered himself to federal authorities in Weston Tuesday morning.
He did not say a word as he left the federal detention center amidst a gaggle of reporters and photographers.
Six other people who allegedly made up his supply and distribution network were also indicted.
Among the others charged were Alex Rodriguez’s cousin Yuri Sucart, Carlos Javier Acevedo, 35, of Miami; Jorge Augustine Velazquez, 43, of Miami; Christopher Benjamin Engroba, 25, of Miami; Lazaro Daniel Collazo, 50, of Hialeah; and Juan Carlos Nuñez, 48, of Fort Lauderdale.
Acevedo pleaded not guilty and his bond was set at $100,000. Engroba pleaded not guilty and his bond was $50,000. No other pleas were entered Tuesday.
Sucart, 52, was banned from the Yankees clubhouse, charter flights, bus and other team-related activities by Major League Baseball in 2009 after Rodriguez admitted he used steroids while with Texas from 2000 to 2003, saying Sucart obtained and injected the drugs for him.
Collazo is a former pitching coach for the universities of Miami, Louisville and South Florida who has also worked as a private instructor with numerous high school, college and professional pitchers. His University of Miami biography says he worked with Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer during his 1991 comeback attempt, seven years after Palmer’s retirement.
“The defendants charged today are alleged to have provided easy access to dangerous concoctions of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to impressionable high school kids and professional athletes on the promise of playing better, recovering faster from injury and having more energy,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer. “Bosch and his network of recruiters and black market suppliers ignored the serious health risks posed to their so-called “patients,” all for a profit. Simply put, doping children is unacceptable – it is not only wrong and illegal, but dangerous. Cheating doesn’t pay and individuals like Bosch and his co-defendants, who distributed PEDs to athletes and, more importantly, to our children, will be held accountable for their actions.”
According to court documents, Bosch willfully conspired to distribute the anabolic steroid testosterone from October 2008 through December 2012. He’s been charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute testosterone. The documents do not specify whether the charges are directly related to the MLB scandal.
Prosecutors also announced the arrest of three others in a drug ring discovered during the course of the investigation into Biogenesis. However, that case, which centered around the stimulant known as “molly,” was not directly connected to Bosch. Charged in that separate case are Giovanny Brenes, 35, Jorge Canela, Jr., 25; and Cpl. Carlos Luis Ruiz, 34, all of Miami.
Ruiz worked for Florida Highway Patrol who released a statement regarding the allegations saying, “The Florida Highway Patrol is in the process of dismissing Cpl. Carlos L. Ruiz based on a federal warrant arrest on Aug. 5. Troopers are and should be held to the highest standards of integrity and trust. Ruiz’s actions showed that he failed to uphold those standards expected of our members and this behavior will not be tolerated by the Department.”
No athletes are identified or accused of a crime in the charging documents. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration in South Florida went after the drug suppliers, not the users.
Professional athletes paid up to $12,000 a month for the drugs provided by Biogenesis, while high schoolers paid up to $600 a month. All the clients were promised that the substances would not be found through drug testing, prosecutors said.
“He is not a doctor,” Mark R. Trouville, chief of the Miami Drug Enforcement Administration office, said of Bosch. “He is a drug dealer.”
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said Bosch did not have a medical license, making what happened all the more dangerous.
“As with many drug cases, these defendants were motivated by one thing — by money,” Ferrer said.
Major League Baseball was not part of the criminal investigation and declined comment. No athletes were charged nor named in court documents, and it is unclear how many may have been involved. However, authorities said Bosch admitted to providing performance-enhancing drugs to 18 high schoolers.
Rodriguez and other players were suspended by MLB on Aug. 5, 2013. Rodriguez was originally given a 211-game suspension but that was lowered by an arbitrator to 162 games, plus any 2014 playoff games. The others accepted 50 game bans.
Rodriquez had previously admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs in 2001-2003 when he played for the Texas Rangers. He has denied, however, using banned drugs as a Yankee.
Bosch disputes that. In an interview in January, 2014, with CBS anchor Scott Pelley, Bosch said he personally delivered banned substances, including testosterone, insulin-like growth factor 1 and human growth hormones to Rodriguez at least a dozen times and Rodriguez paid him $12,000 a month in cash.
“Alex is scared of needles, so at times, he would ask me to inject,” Bosch told Pelley.
Bosch said Rodriguez’s mission was to hit 800 home runs and that the Yankee slugger asked him for what he gave MLB superstar Manny Ramirez, a former Bosch client.
Joe Tacopina, a lawyer for Rodriguez, said the arrests Tuesday represent a degree of closure for Rodriguez and will enable him to focus on an eventual return to baseball.
“It sort of reinforces the notion that Alex committed no crime, number one,” Tacopina said. “And number two, quite frankly, this really signified the beginning of the end of the whole Biogenesis saga and allows Alex to focus on the future going forward.”
Rodriguez is currently serving a season-long suspension, the longest penalty in the sport’s history related to performance-enhancing drugs. He was the only one of 14 players involved in the scandal to contest his penalty.
However, since the investigation is ongoing, it remains possible that more players could eventually face sanctions as a result of the Biogenesis probe.
The scandal broke in January 2013 when the Miami New Times published an expose that detailed how Bosch, through his unlicensed clinic, was secretly dealing steroids to ballplayers and other sports figures.
One of his employees, Porter Fischer, went to the newspaper with documents he had taken from the clinic, including client lists and the amounts they had paid for the drugs.
Fischer spoke to CBS4 Investigative Reporter Jim DeFede exclusively in August 2013.
Originally, MLB sued Biogenesis and Bosch, along with others, claiming they created a violation of the players’ contracts by supplying them with banned substances.
Ultimately, MLB officials convinced Bosch to cooperate with them, and he turned over a cache of material, including emails exchanged with Rodriquez that reportly confirmed he and other ballplayers were doping in violation of the players’ labor contract.
In exchange, Bosch was dropped from the MLB lawsuit. MLB is also paying for security for him and have agreed to cover his legal fees in return for his cooperation.
Bosch entered a Not Guilty plea Tuesday, but is expected to change his plea to Guilty as part of a plea agreement also filed Tuesday.
“He now has an opportunity to cooperate with the government and have them come in and say to the judge, he’s cooperated with us, we think you should reduce his sentence,” former federal prosecutor David Weinstein told CBS 4′s Lauren Pastrana.
Weinstein said Bosch will likely testify, against the others, but don’t be surprised if a familiar face shows up in court, too.
“We might see either a professional or a collegiate ball player come and testify,” he explained,” Weinstein explained.
On the heels of the arrests, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced plans to start a pilot program for random drug testing for high school athletes.
“The District is committed to the safety of our children,” said Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “The charges brought against these individuals were a positive move by the federal government. Closing down facilities like this – which are providing drugs to children – will benefit our community. This pilot program will provide an additional safety net against the use of performance-enhancing drugs by our youth.”
The feds say more arrests could be coming.
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