Crime

Miami-Dade baseball coach Collazo to plead guilty to misdemeanor steroid possession charges

Former UM pitching coach Lazaro 'Lazer' Collazo
Former UM pitching coach Lazaro 'Lazer' Collazo

Prominent Miami-Dade County baseball coach Lazaro “Lazer” Collazo plans to plead guilty to newly filed misdemeanor charges of possessing unlawful steroids, according to his defense attorney.

Collazo was among eight defendants who were originally charged in federal court with conspiring to distribute steroids through a Coral Gables anti-aging clinic, which was at the center of a Major League Baseball scandal.

Collazo, 51, was accused of distributing them to high school athletes, while the other seven were charged with supplying them to MLB players — including New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, a onetime Miami-Dade high school standout.

Collazo’s defense attorney, Frank Quintero, confirmed Friday to the Miami Herald that his client has agreed to the terms of a plea deal with the U.S. attorney’s office that would recommend two years of probation. His change of plea hearing is scheduled for March 16.

On Friday, prosecutors Pat Sullivan and Sharad Motiani filed two new misdemeanor charges. They replace the more serious indictment accusing Collazo of conspiring with the owners of the now-shuttered Coral Gables anti-aging clinic to distribute steroids to youths.

Collazo, a former University of Miami assistant baseball coach and Gulliver Prep coach, was scheduled to go to trial in early April on felony charges. But now those charges are being dismissed with the filing of the less serious misdemeanor possession charges.

In a statement, Collazo’s attorney, Quintero, thanked prosecutors. He always maintained that his client only referred a few parents to the clinic, Biogenesis of America, and that he believed its principal owner was an actual sports doctor. The owner turned out to be a fake physician.

“Throughout this case, the parties maintained open lines of communication and all discussions were open to agreement or disagreement as to the evidence, with both sides constantly reviewing and re-evaluating the evidence as it was obtained,” said Quintero, who was assisted on the Collazo defense by attorneys Alejandro Gonzalez and Juan Broche.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga must still hold a hearing and decide whether to accept Collazo’s planned guilty plea before it becomes official. She also must decide whether to accept the jointly recommended probationary sentence.

Quintero said that in the plea agreement, Collazo admits he twice bought testosterone for himself without a valid prescription in April and June of 2013 from the steroid clinic’s former co-owner, Carlos Acevedo. The Biogenesis clinic had closed in late 2012.

The clinic’s main owner, Anthony Bosch, who posed as an actual doctor, his former partner, Acevedo, and four other defendants have already pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute illegal steroids through Biogenesis. The clinic sold testosterone, human growth hormones and other muscle-building steroids to Rodriguez and 13 other Major League Baseball players.

In 2013, all of the MLB players received lengthy suspensions for using the banned performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez, who contested his suspension, got the stiffest penalty: a 162-game suspension.

Rodriguez’s former personal assistant, Yuri Sucart, is the remaining defendant who faces trial in early April. He’s accused of distributing illegal steroids to MLB ballplayers through Biogenesis, as well as to high school athletes in a sting operation directed by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Collazo, however, had no involvement with Sucart, or with any of the other defendants in the MLB part of the steroid-distribution ring.

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