The South Florida middle man between a local steroid-peddling clinic and several pro baseball players pleaded guilty to a distribution charge in Miami federal court Friday.
Juan Carlos Nuñez referred ballplayers from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela to Anthony Bosch, the convicted owner of the Coral Gables anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis of America — ground zero for the scandal that shook Major League Baseball.
Last year, a total of 14 ballplayers who used banned steroids bought from Biogenesis were suspended for lengthy periods, including New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. The onetime Miami-Dade high school standout was referred to Bosch by the ballplayer’s longtime personal assistant, Yuri Sucart.
On Friday, Nuñez admitted in Miami federal court that he came to know and assist some of the foreign ballplayers implicated in the steroid controversy while he was working for a New York-based sports agency, ACES Inc. He received a finder’s fee from the agency for every player who signed a major league contract, and he would take care of their personal needs.
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Nuñez, who became a “limited” MLB player agent, told the ballplayers that he knew a “‘doctor’who could help them feel and play better,” according to a statement filed with his plea agreement. “Nuñez never told the MLB players who the doctor was, just that he knew the doctor and that the doctor was very good.”
Nuñez began referring the foreign ballplayers to Bosch, who was posing as a real doctor, in November 2010, the statement said. Bosch evaluated the players, designed a protocol and injected them with performance-enhancing drugs at meetings over the next two years.
According to the statement, Nuñez coordinated meetings between Bosch and players, was aware of injections and would also provide Bosch with monthly payments on their behalf.
During Friday’s hearing, Nuñez made it clear to U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga that he was not present at those meetings when Bosch injected the players.
As part of his plea agreement, he admitted distributing less than 1,000 units of testosterone to the MLB ballplayers.
Altonaga scheduled his sentencing hearing for March 3. Nuñez, 48, faces up to 10 years on his distribution-conspiracy conviction but is likely to receive considerably less time.
His guilty plea brings the total number of convicted defendants to six in the high-profile steroid case.
Sucart, who referred Rodriguez and other MLB players to Bosch, and Miami-Dade baseball coach Lazaro “Lazer” Collazo, are the remaining two defendants. They face trial on steroid-distribution charges in early April.