His name is Porter Fischer, and six months ago, few people had ever heard of him.
But Fischer, who lives in a sprawling house in Pinecrest, just might one day be remembered as the man who blew up Major League Baseball.
Fischer is on the verge of hammering out a “whistleblower” deal with the commissioner of baseball to give up the mother lode of computer and written records that he claims shows the names of big-name players who have been using steroids and other banned substances since 2009.
Fischer worked at Biogenesis, the now defunct Coral Gables anti-aging clinic at the center of baseball’s latest doping crisis. He purportedly snatched the clinic’s records because he was angry that the clinic’s owner, Anthony Bosch, owed him $4,000.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
So he leaked some of the records to the Miami New Times, which published them in January, setting off a firestorm that threatens the careers of various players and the legitimacy of the national pastime.
Among the athletes named in the clinic’s records: ballplayers Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Yasmani Grandal, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Jhonny Peralta; tennis player Wayne Odesnik and boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa.
The players have denied taking any banned substances. If it can be proven they did so, MLB plans to suspend them for at least 50 games.Fischer, who described the MLB to the New Times as “the biggest scumbags on earth,’’ has apparently changed his tune.
Fischer’s attorney, Raymond Rafool, said Wednesday he met with MLB representative in his Miami office on Tuesday and while no deal was finalized, they plan to continue discussions in an effort to come to some kind of an agreement. The pact would include compensation, but nowhere near the $1 million rumored in other media reports, including the gossip and entertainment site TMZ, Rafool said.
“There has been no money discussed at all,’’ he said. “But obviously, like in all whistleblower cases, there is some form of compensation, but we don’t have a specific number in mind.’’
Rafool said that since the story broke, his client has been chased in his car at high speeds, seen suspicious activity at his home and even received death threats. A box of his documents was stolen from his car in March, his lawyer said, but he still has a great deal of credible evidence to offer the MLB.
“These are players who have been using performance enhancing drugs — from fighters to basketball to tennis and baseball — since 2009,’’ Rafool said. “Had my client not stepped forward and blown this thing up who knows how long this would have continued?”
But buying documents and paying witnesses to make their case could be problematic for MLB, according to legal experts.
“There is clearly nothing illegal about it, and companies do it all the time,’’ said Howard Wasserman, professor of law at Florida International University’s School of Law. “But it is widely recognized as ethically questionable. There is an ‘ick’ factor to it.’’
Fischer had been offered as much as $125,000 by MLB several months ago, but when he hesitated, hoping for more money, he lost his leverage. Bosch, broke and being sued by MLB, decided to make a deal baseball officials to implicate the players in exchange for representation against possible player lawsuits, personal protection and payment of all his expenses. That made Fischer less valuable, even though his lawyer insists his documentation is more credible.
Others have tried to buy Fischer’s information, although Rafool would not comment on other offers. It was widely reported that Bosch tried unsuccessfully to sell his documents to Alex Rodriguez, although Rodriguez’s representatives have denied that.
MLB, which is suing Bosch and a number of his partners in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, contends that the clinic knowingly sold players performance enhancing drugs, thereby inducing them to violate the rules of their collective bargaining agreement. Alex Rodriguez’s cousin, Yuri Sucart, who is named in the records posted by New Times, and two of Bosch’s partners have filed motions to have the suit thrown out.