NEW: Tony Bosch enters not guilty plea for now, expected to change to guilty later
Bosch, founder of Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami, surrenders to DEA
Clinic allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs to pro baseball players
Earlier this year, Major League Baseball dropped suit against Bosch and Biogenesis
Tony Bosch, the founder of the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami, is not a licensed doctor, but portrayed himself as one, federal officials said Tuesday.
Officials said he dispensed performance-enhancing drugs to professional baseball players such as suspended New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and to impressionable high school athletes in South Florida and teenagers in the Dominican Republic.
Bosch, 50, surrendered to the Drug Enforcement Administration in Florida on Tuesday. At a court appearance, he pleaded not guilty and a judge set bail at $100,000.
Federal officials said earlier Tuesday that Bosch would agree to plead guilty to a charge of distributing steroids in a conspiracy that stretched from big league club houses to South Florida high schools and youth baseball leagues to sandlots in the Caribbean.
One of his attorneys, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said there is a plea agreement in place and Bosch will change his plea later.
“Mr. Bosch has never had and does not have a DEA registration,” said Mark Trouville, special agent in charge of the DEA Miami. “He is not a licensed medical professional. He is not a doctor. He is a drug dealer.”
Also charged in the scandal were Yuri Sucart, a cousin of Rodriguez, and Juan Carlos Nunez, who was named in a scheme to clear All-Star Melky Cabrera after a positive 2012 testosterone test, authorities said.
Other defendants include Carlos Acevedo, a longtime associate of Bosch’s, former University of Miami coach Lazaro “Lazer” Collazo, Jorge Velasquez, and Christopher Engroba.
Acevedo and three other men, including CarlosLuis Ruiz, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, also were charged in a separate conspiracy involving the sale of the drug MDMA, or molly.
Eight of the 10 men charged appeared in court. Acevedo and Engroba also entered not guilty pleas. The other men didn’t enter a plea.
The drug conspiracy charges against the men stemmed from from a 21-month DEA investigation.
“These defendants were motivated by one thing: money,” United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo Ferrer, said. “They did this by lining their pockets, by exploiting the pressures of athletes and others to be bigger, to be stronger and to play better.”
Bosch could face a 10-year prison term in the case.
Bosch told investigators that he provided the illegal substances to at least 18 minors, Ferrer said.
Bosch and his associates distributed the drugs to minors who attended a number of public and private high schools in South Florida. He would charge the teenagers and their parents between $250 and $600 a month, promising that the concoctions – which included black market steroids – would improve their game.
In addition, investigators said, Bosch and the others operated in the Dominican Republic, where boys as young as 12 were given new baseball equipment and treated with testosterone-loaded syringes in an effort to get them signed with big league teams. Talents scouts working with the children would keep as much as 50 % of their signing bonuses.
“These defendants provided easy access to dangerous concoctions of steroids and human growth hormones to impressionable high school kids,” Ferrer said. “Simply put: Doping children is unacceptable. It is wrong. It is illegal and it is dangerous and Bosch and his reckless recruiters and his black market suppliers ignored the serious health risks posed to their so called patients, all to make a profit.”
The drugs were administered in a number of ways, through injections, pills, creams and even lollipops, according to a source with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Masking agents were used to hide the drugs. “It was so good. The key was being able to fool testers with the league (Major League Baseball), the source said. “The masking agents in the creams would hide the actual drug, and (Bosch) would know the timing involved. He knew if the athlete took the drug right before a game, they’d be tested 12 hours later and the drug would no longer be detectable.”
Earlier this year, Major League Baseball dropped its lawsuit against Bosch and the company the league claims provided performance-enhancing drugs to a number of players, including Rodriguez. The league had agreed to drop the suit if Bosch cooperated in the investigation, according to published reports.
In a statement Tuesday, Rodriguez’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said: “This obviously is the beginning of the end of this sordid chapter in baseball.”
Authorities said professional athletes recruited by the clinic paid between $2,000 and $12,000 per month for the drugs.
The investigation led to the suspension of 14 players for violating the league’s drug policy. Besides Rodriguez, suspended players included Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, who served part of his suspension last season.
Bosch’s Biogenesis clinic became part of the story in late January 2013, when the Miami New Times reported that more than a dozen professional baseball players and other athletes had been named in records kept over several years by the clinic.
Two months later, MLB filed its lawsuit against the clinic in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.
Its 14-page complaint named Biogenesis, its predecessor company and six individuals – among them program director Bosch, others at the company, someone who worked at a sports agency, a former University of Miami baseball player and a “self-proclaimed chemist” who supplied substances.
CNN’s Alina Machado contributed to this report.