Anthony Bosch, the former owner of a Coral Gables anti-aging clinic that sold banned steroids to now-suspended Major League ballplayers, pleaded guilty Thursday in Miami federal court.
But the expected plea was overshadowed by new disclosures of his heavy cocaine abuse.
Once he started cooperating with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s investigation, he lied repeatedly to federal agents about his habitual use of cocaine, even days after he struck his plea deal in August, records show. During 10 meetings about the probe, DEA agents asked Bosch at least five times whether he was under the influence of any illegal drugs, and he answered “no.”
But Bosch tested positive for cocaine twice after his arrest in August and then admitted to a court probation officer that he has been illegally using the drug daily for the past four years.
Despite those apparent contradictions, U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles revoked his earlier suspension of Bosch’s $100,000 bond and allowed him to return to his Coral Gables home under house arrest. Bosch must then live at a substance-abuse treatment facility before his sentencing on Dec. 18, when he faces between 3½ and 4½ years in prison.
Gayles said he decided to release Bosch from the Miami Federal Detention Center after the lead prosecutor, Pat Sullivan, did not object to his receiving bail and assured the judge that Bosch was not a danger to the community and would show up for all future court appearances.
But Gayles said he was “surprised” that the U.S. attorney’s office was not more forthcoming about Bosch’s “longstanding substance abuse problem” at his bond hearing in August. The judge said he learned about it from the court’s probation office last month.
Sullivan said that Bosch was “not faithful” to the conditions of his bond, including his use of cocaine, but emphasized that he had helped prosecutors build the criminal case against him and six co-defendants during a series of meetings with DEA agents this year.
“If he was using cocaine at any of those times, we certainly did not perceive that,” Sullivan told the judge. “If he was meeting with DEA agents, they are certainly trained to see that.”
A veteran Miami attorney who is representing a co-defendant fingered by Bosch said he had never seen the prosecutor treat a defendant so leniently for violating the terms of his bond.
“The only reason he told the truth about his cocaine use to the probation officer was because he literally got caught with his pants down,” said defense attorney Frank Quintero, who is representing Lazaro “Lazer” Collazo, a former University of Miami baseball coach.
Bosch, 51, once South Florida’s go-to guy for performance-enhancement drugs, pleaded guilty to a distribution-conspiracy charge on Thursday.
Bosch, who passed himself off as a real a doctor and went by the name “Dr. T,” has assisted not only the DEA’s probe but also Major League Baseball’s investigation of banned steroid use. His central role as an MLB witness led to the suspension of 14 ballplayers, including a season-long suspension this year for New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, a onetime Miami-Dade high school standout.
Despite that assistance, Bosch’s erratic accounts of cocaine abuse almost kept him behind bars before his sentencing to prison.
Last week, Gayles ordered Bosch jailed immediately after learning he tested positive twice for cocaine in August and failed to show up for his substance abuse counseling on two occasions. He had been released on $100,000 bail on the conditions that he not use illegal drugs and undergo random urine testing.
“I simply have no confidence in his ability to appear as directed,” Gayles said at a hearing Oct. 6.
Bosch’s defense lawyer, Guy Lewis, the former U.S. attorney in Miami, and Sullivan jointly asked the judge to reconsider his decision.
Lewis requested that Bosch be released on a “reasonable bond” that requires him to reside in a private residential treatment facility for substance abuse.
But Thursday, Lewis did not disclose his client’s repeated lies to the DEA when agents questioned Bosch this year about whether he was under the influence of any illegal drugs. He falsely answered “no” every time, according to records reviewed by the Miami Herald.
Instead, Lewis said his client brought his substance-abuse problem to the attention of DEA agents and the U.S. attorney’s office in April. “I believe he was sincere then and he’s sincere now” about his problem, Lewis told the judge. “You have before you an individual who does need [drug] counseling ... as opposed to being incarcerated, which is not the best situation.”
The judge ultimately agreed that treatment was the “appropriate” solution, without pressing Lewis or Sullivan about Bosch’s false statements to DEA agents.
In August, Bosch signed a plea agreement admitting to his criminal activity at the Coral Gables anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis of America.
Bosch, convicted of selling more than 5,000 units of testosterone to professional and local high school ballplayers, assisted the DEA and U.S. attorney’s office in the investigation, which could help him obtain a significantly lesser sentence.
Bosch has also helped Major League Baseball by giving up the names of his clinic’s customers, which led to a sensational doping scandal. At Thursday’s hearing, his defense attorney said Bosch was instrumental in a “record number of suspensions in Major League Baseball.”
In exchange for his inside information, MLB signed an agreement with Bosch in March 2014 to pay for his criminal-defense fees and expenses, which have included a bodyguard and driver, records show.
The deal allowed Bosch’s current defense attorney, Lewis, to charge $750 an hour, and his former attorney, Susy Elena Ribero-Ayala, $500 an hour.
But even before that deal was struck, Major League Baseball deposited about $380,000 into a bank account for Bosch’s criminal defense between June and October of 2013, records show.
In August, Bosch and six other defendants were arrested on charges of conspiring to to sell testosterone supplied by his Coral Gables clinic from 2008 to 2013.
In court papers, the U.S. attorney’s office revealed that 122 electronic surveillance recordings — audio and video — were made of Bosch and the other defendants during the federal investigation, which began in November 2012. It gained momentum the following January after the Miami New Times broke the story about Bosch’s alleged sale of steroids to Major League ballplayers and others.
None of Bosch’s customers has been charged.