Biogenesis founder Bosch surrenders to DEA

WESTON, Fla. — A year to the day that Major League Baseball handed down more than a dozen suspensions in the Biogenesis scandal, highlighted by embattled slugger Alex Rodriguez, federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted an early Tuesday morning roundup that led to charges against the former clinic founder, Tony Bosch, and others tied to his operation.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Bosch

AP Photo/Fitzpatrick CommunicationsAnthony Bosch, shown here in a file photo, surrendered to DEA agents Tuesday in Florida.

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 pre-dawn hours and brought in for processing.

Federal sources said Bosch, 50, had reached a deal to plead guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami scheduled a news conference for later Tuesday to detail the charges.

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.

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 Major League Baseball after either after 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, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon.

At least 25 players, either by name or nickname, appeared in clinic documents reviewed by Outside the Lines,” though MLB lacked sufficient evidence to bring suspensions against all of them. Sources have indicated the number of MLB players who dealt with Bosch over the years could be significantly higher.

Records reveal 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. To gain his cooperation — as well as access to his text, email and other evidence against A-Rod and other players – baseball officials agreed to drop a civil lawsuit it had filed against him, to indemnify him against civil charges while also promising to put in a good word if he were to face criminal charges, though MLB obviously isn’t in position to influence a federal investigation.

The agreement 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 Motiania led the prosecution, while the DEA coordinated the investigation.

Porter Fischer, a former patient/client and briefly 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 the state was conducting of Bosch and his operation.

Sources told “Outside the Lines” 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 at least 15 high school or 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, though 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 last September. He indicated the aspiring college baseball player, accompanied by his father, visited Bosch in hopes the HGH he prescribed would help him grow in stature. The player is described as “real short” — about 5-6 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” “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.”

A former clinic employee told “Outside the Lines” of providing details to South Florida-based DEA agents about teenagers being provided PEDs during interviews last October. One of individuals agents were told about was Lazer Collazo, a former college baseball college 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” his sons were not seen by Bosch 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 Jorge (Oggi) Velasquez and Carlos 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 prior clinic located on the same sit as Biogenesis, known as Biokem. 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 also 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 pitching 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 Bosch functioned as a contact between Ramirez and his then 71-year-old father, Dr. Pedro Publio Bosch, who wrote the prescription for a banned substance used by the then Los Angeles Dodger outfielder.

The elder Bosch allegedly prescribed hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin — a fertility drug commonly used by athletes to boost their natural testosterone levels after coming off a steroid cycle.

Drug Enforcement Agency 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, VIP Med, Medical Hrt (hormone replacement therapy) and the latest, Biogenesis of America — which promotes itself as specializing in weight loss and hormone replacement therapy.

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, 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 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 Stadium — the baseball complex the New York Yankees star got his name on after a $ 3.9 million contribution toward its renovation.

T.J. Quinn joined ESPN in November 2007 as an investigative reporter for ESPN’s Enterprise Unit, which is charged with developing long-form, investigative features to be presented across multiple platforms.

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