Childhood pal who stole boat from major league pitcher goes to jail

Anthony Acosta
Anthony Acosta Miami-Dade Corrections

A childhood friend of pro baseball player Bronson Arroyo is going to jail for six months for stealing the pitcher’s boat.

Anthony Acosta, 39, who once had a side gig playing professional softball, will also serve four years of probation on charges in Miami of grand theft and forgery.

“Anthony is a good and decent person who ran into these unfortunate events,” said his Miami defense lawyer, Paul Donnelly. “He will put this behind him and hit the home run in life moving forward.”

Acosta and Arroyo grew up together in the Lower Keys, and later reconnected when the pitcher was playing for the Boston Red Sox in the early 2000s. Arroyo, who won a World Series in 2004 with the Red Sox and is now with the Reds, later hired Acosta to be a personal assistant, to tend to his boat, cook breakfast and run errands.

But their relationship went south after 2011, when Acosta began slacking on the job, living it up on one of Arroyo’s boats.

“I would come home from a road trip and I would need some food there. I’m getting in late at night, he would be out partying on the SeaRay [boat] instead of bringing me food,” Arroyo said in a deposition this week. “He was constantly spending money that I would ask him not to spend.

“I’m having people all around town call me and say that he is having misdealings with them. … Everything it seemed that he touched turned into chaos.”

Arroyo, wanting his friend to clean up his life, gave him about $350,000 over six months as a severance package. “Out of the goodness of my heart,” Arroyo said.

But Acosta — who was abusing prescription pain medication — began making vague threats, demanding $5 million more in severance pay.

In 2013, Acosta called to say he noticed that the pitcher’s 30-foot Concept boat had sunk at Tampa’s Westshore Yacht Club, where it was docked.

Acosta lied, saying the boat had been salvaged and was transported to a boatyard, where it would need “several thousand” dollars in repairs. Acosta tried to get money from the pitcher, but Arroyo refused, according to an arrest warrant.

Soon, Acosta took off with the boat, transporting it to the Concept Boats yard in Opa-locka. He then sold the vessel, missing two engines, to the father of the yard’s owner for $22,000, providing a phony bill of sale complete with a forged signature from Arroyo — who knew nothing of the sale and was playing with the Arizona Diamondbacks at the time.

But when the new owner, Manuel Avila, learned that the yacht had a $100,000 lien on it, he demanded his money back from Acosta, who blew him off. He then called Arroyo, who was shocked to learn of the sale (he later paid off the lien). Arroyo then reported the scam to police.