WESTON, Fla. -- A year to the day that Major League Baseball handed down more than a dozen suspensions in the Biogenesis scandal, highlighted by that of embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted an early-morning roundup Tuesday that led to charges against the former clinic's founder, Anthony Bosch, and others tied to his operation.
At a news conference early Tuesday afternoon, DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville said that Bosch was one of 10 people arrested Tuesday as part of a two-year Operation Strikeout investigation. U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said that seven arrests were related to Biogenesis, and three were arrested as part of a separate indictment regarding the party drug Molly. That case was not directly connected to Bosch, Ferrer said.
Federal sources said Bosch, 50, had reached a deal to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids between October 2008 and December 2012.
In a procedural move, he pleaded not guilty at a bond hearing in Miami on Tuesday and was released on $100,000 bond. But his attorney, Julio Ayala, said of a guilty plea: "That will happen eventually." Bosch signed a proffer in support of a guilty plea that was entered into court on Tuesday.
If convicted, Bosch faces up to a maximum 10 years in prison.
Multiple law enforcement officials told "Outside the Lines" that the names of several professional baseball players not previously identified came up in the investigation. The names have not been released, but the sources said the names likely will be in discovery filings.
Sources told "Outside the Lines" that MLB players and other pro athletes are not the focus of the federal investigation; rather, authorities focused solely on potential illegal activities involving Bosch and other associates.
Also among those arrested Tuesday was Yuri Sucart, a cousin of Rodriguez. Federal agents described Sucart as one of Bosch's recruiters. Sucart was banned from the New York 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 2001 to 2003, saying Sucart obtained and injected the drugs for him.
Carlos Acevedo (Bosch's former business partner), Jorge (Oggi) Velasquez, Juan Nunez, Christopher Engroba and former University of Miami pitching coach Lazer Collazo also were arrested. Nunez was banned from baseball in 2012 after MLB alleged that he masterminded a failed scheme to explain away then-San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera's positive test for synthetic testosterone by fabricating a fictitious supplement and advertising it on a counterfeit website.
Nunez was a consultant for Cabrera's agents at ACES Inc., which is run by high-profile baseball agents Seth and Sam Levinson.
All of the defendants, except Collazo, who is currently hospitalized, appeared at 1:30 p.m. ET for initial appearance on charges before U.S. District Court judge Jonathan Goodman. The defendants sat handcuffed in the jury box before being called before Judge Goodman.
Bail was set at $100,000 for Bosch, Acevedo and Velasquez, and $50,000 for the other defendants. Bosch wore a white dress shirt and slacks to his appearance, while the others wore T-shirts and gym shorts. Bosch's parents, Pedro and Stella, were in court and co-signed his bail bond.
Nunez told the judge he hadn't worked in two years and will be assigned a public defender. Sucart was the lone defendant to use a court-provided headset for translation and spoke to the judge in Spanish. He is a Dominican national, not a U.S. citizen, and said he had recently left a hospital for treatment of an undisclosed illness.
Trouville said that Bosch and his associates distributed performance-enhancing drugs to minors as well as professionals. Trouville said Bosch isn't a doctor; "he is a drug dealer."Bosch admitted to treating 18 minors ages 15 to 17. Velasquez and Engroba were his primary black-market sources, according to federal officials at the news conference. Collazo and Sucart were the primary recruiters of the high school athletes, and Nunez and Sucart helped Bosch with professional athletes.
Trouville said the price of Bosch's products were between $250 and $600 per month for high school students. The price for pro athletes was as much as $1,200 per month.
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.
Bosch, Acevedo and Sucart was also part of a company in the Dominican Republic, Scores Sports Management Inc., that the government says used street agents to find and develop players. The company provided sports equipment and testosterone-loaded syringes, according to the government. The street agents got 50 percent of any signing bonus for a player.
Shortly after 6 a.m. ET, federal agents began driving up with the handcuffed suspects at the DEA regional office on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale. Bosch and his attorney drove to the DEA office to surrender. Several of his associates with ties to the anti-aging/wellness business were picked up at their homes in the predawn hours and brought in for processing.
Bosch, a self-described biochemist, has been at the head of the largest performance-enhancing drug scandal in American sports history. To date, nearly 20 professional players connected to his clinic have been suspended by MLB after either having tested positive or their doping regimens having been uncovered in clinic records. The list includes some of baseball's marquee names, led by A-Rod, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Cabrera and Bartolo Colon.
The aggressive, lengthy MLB investigation ended in a record number of suspensions but at times proved tumultuous and costly. Baseball officials threw tens of thousands of dollars at potential witnesses in seeking to nail their case -- at one point paying an ex-convict $150,000 for clinic documents, some of which a state health official said it should have known were stolen. Baseball's Department of Investigations was overhauled in May in the wake of the Biogenesis investigation.
At least 25 players, either by name or nickname, appeared in clinic documents reviewed by "Outside the Lines" over the past two years, although MLB lacked sufficient evidence to bring suspensions against all of them. Sources have indicated that the number of MLB players who dealt with Bosch over the years could be significantly higher.
Records reveal that Bosch also serviced athletes from other sports, entertainers and South Florida business types, often prescribing regimens of growth hormone and testosterone.
Bosch later served as the lead witness in MLB's case against Rodriguez, who appealed his suspension before dropping his fight in February. To gain Bosch's cooperation -- as well as access to his texts, emails and other evidence against A-Rod and other players -- baseball officials agreed to drop a civil lawsuit they had filed against him. MLB did that to indemnify him against civil charges while also promising to put in a good word if he was to face criminal charges, although MLB obviously isn't in position to influence a federal investigation.
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.''
The agreement to cooperate in MLB's investigation was reached in June 2013, just two months before a federal grand jury in Miami began hearing evidence in the case centered on Bosch and his shuttered wellness clinic. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Sullivan and Sharad Motiani led the prosecution, while the DEA coordinated the investigation.
Last year, the Florida Department of Health -- which has minimal control over the state's anti-aging/wellness clinics -- concluded a probe of Bosch by issuing a cease-and-desist letter and fining him $5,000, which was later reduced to $3,000.
Porter Fischer, a former patient/client who briefly served as marketing director of Biogenesis, appeared before the grand jury and turned over clinic documents. At the time, federal law enforcement officials asked Florida investigators to "stand down" in a separate investigation the state was conducting of Bosch and his operation.
Sources told "Outside the Lines" that the federal investigation focused on:
• Whether Bosch acted in the role of a physician (he is not licensed as one).
• How the clinic obtained and administered human growth hormone, steroids and other drugs, as well as the source.
• And whether teenagers were provided performance-enhancing drugs. In July 2013, "Outside the Lines" reported that sources said Bosch had provided teens with PEDs. The allegation was also supported by clinic documents obtained by "Outside the Lines."
Clinic records revealed the names of more than 20 high school and college athletes who were Bosch patients, most of whom received PEDs. The parents or attorneys for several of the players either denied any involvement with Bosch or that the teenager took a banned substance, although the attorney for at least one athlete confirmed the PED regimen prescribed for his client.
According to the attorney, his client was interviewed by DEA agents in September. He said the aspiring college baseball player, accompanied by his father, had visited Bosch in hopes that the HGH he prescribed would help him grow taller. The player is described as "real short" -- about 5-foot-6 or 5-7.
"[Bosch] said if you take this concoction or whatever -- it was pills and some small HGH stuff ... it was geared toward extending his growth spurt," the attorney told "Outside the Lines" in September. "From 5-7 to 5-10 is a big difference when it comes to the colleges."
The attorney said Bosch also pitched testosterone to the teenager's father, saying, "Bosch put himself out there to be a doctor."
During interviews in October, a former clinic employee told "Outside the Lines" that he had informed South Florida-based DEA agents about teenagers being given PEDs. One individual whom agents were told about was Collazo, a former college baseball player and prominent figure in the Miami baseball community.
"I know he [the father] used to come in and pick up medicines for the kids," the former employee said. "I don't know their names. I just know because the nurse mentioned to me that the father picks up HGH for the kids. For the sons. She didn't say that they were minors or anything."
Collazo previously told "Outside the Lines" that Bosch did not see his sons and he was unaware of Bosch prescribing PEDs.
The former employee said the DEA agents came with photos of several Bosch associates she was asked to identify, including Velasquez and Acevedo.
"They [agents] wanted more information, the inside information," the employee said. "It was how office operated. Where the medicines came from."
Acevedo, 35, was a partner with Bosch in a previous clinic, Biokem, located on the same site as Biogenesis. He later left and ran the now-defunct Revive Miami clinic. Some of the athletes tied to Bosch also appear in records dating back three or four years ago to Biokem.
Velasquez also previously was involved with Bosch in the wellness business and operates another Coral Gables clinic.
Bosch is well-known in Latin American baseball circles. He operates from a base in South Florida, where wellness clinics pitch growth hormone treatments and testosterone injections and legions of pro baseball players live and train every offseason.
His relationships with players date back at least a decade. He has attended parties with players and procured tickets to big league ballparks, especially in Boston and New York.
Bosch first made news in 2009 after Manny Ramirez was slapped with the first of what would be two drug suspensions by MLB. At the time, ESPN reported that Bosch functioned as a contact between Ramirez and Bosch's then-71-year-old father, Dr. Pedro Publio Bosch, who wrote the prescription for a banned substance used by the then-Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder.
The elder Bosch allegedly prescribed human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a fertility drug commonly used by athletes to boost their natural testosterone levels after coming off a steroid cycle.
Drug Enforcement Administration investigators looked into the matter, but federal officials told "Outside the Lines" that the agency never opened a case file.
Bosch, outside of a brief time while living in El Paso, Texas, has been a player in the South Florida feel-good medical community for at least two decades. His name is listed on state corporation records tied to a laundry list of ventures that are now mostly shuttered, including Contemporary Health Solutions, Body Chemistry and VIP Med.
Several friends and former associates told "Outside the Lines" they were either told by Bosch or led to believe that he was a medical doctor. On state corporate filings for Medical Hrt (hormone-replacement therapy), a former venture that never formally launched, Bosch is listed as "Dr. Bosch."
In Coral Gables, the Biogenesis of America office sat on the first floor of the three-story Gables Waterway Executive Center, a stucco building home to medical and professional offices. The offices backed up to a small water canal. Just across the four-lane Dixie Highway are the quiet, tree-lined streets of the University of Miami campus. Easily visible is the school's Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field -- the baseball complex the New York Yankees star got his name on after a $3.9 million contribution toward its renovation.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.