Biogenesis Scandal: MLB Might Have Obstructed Justice, Police Say
Did MLB drop the ball?
Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
Nearly a year after the Biogenesis scandal ended with a record round of baseball suspensions, one mystery has lingered. It centers on boxes of medical files stolen from the car of whistleblower Porter Fischer, the source behind the New Times article that sparked the whole affair.
The files taken from Fischer's car outside a Boca Raton tanning salon in a brazen daylight robbery on March 24, 2013, later ended up in Major League Baseball's hands as part of an attempt to get enough evidence to suspend Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and the other players buying performance-enhancing drugs from the clinic.
What has gone unanswered is: How much did baseball's higher-ups know about the theft? And did they hang onto the purloined files even after learning they were needed for a state investigation into Biogenesis proprietor Tony Bosch?
A new report from Boca Raton Police suggests MLB might have obstructed justice. Perhaps not coincidentally, MLB fired the two heads of its internal investigative force, Dan Mullin and George Hanna, earlier this month.
The new report closes the criminal investigation of Reggie St. Fleur, the 20-year-old who police say broke into Fischer's car. While authorities ultimately decided against charging anyone else in the caper, the report makes it clear that Boca Raton PD believes St. Fleur probably didn't act alone. The salon's owners, Peter and Anthony Carbone, their friend Gary Jones, and even MLB's detectives likely had a role, at least according to the cops. All have denied the claim.
"Although there is evidence of involvement by Peter Carbone, Anthony Carbone, Gary Jones, and several MLB investigators, there is not enough probable cause at this time to charge anyone else with a criminal act," concludes the report written by Detective Terrence Payne.
After New Times' January 2013 investigation revealed Bosch's ties to pro athletes, MLB investigators launched a fevered attempt to gather evidence on the stars implicated in the story. Fischer refused to cooperate with MLB, but he did agree to help Jerome Hill, a Florida Department of Health investigator looking to charge Bosch with practicing medicine without a license.
That's why Fischer drove to his storage unit in Ocala to get boxes of files he'd taken from Biogenesis, where he worked briefly as a marketing director before feuding with Bosch over money. On the way back home with the evidence, Fischer stopped at a Boca Raton outlet of Boca Tanning, which his friends the Carbones owned. There he planned to meet Jones, a tanning bed repairman.
While Fischer was inside the salon, someone bashed in the windows of his rental car and took the files. Within a month, MLB had purchased the same documents from Jones for $25,000. (In a side twist, Jones then reportedly got $200,000 from A-Rod for evidence that he'd sold stolen docs to MLB — evidence Rodriguez wrongly believed would help him overturn his record 211-game suspension.)
Fischer later told detectives that he believed Jones and the Carbones were behind the theft and that MLB might have been involved. But Boca PD's investigation went nowhere until December. That's when a DNA test came back on a smear of blood left on Fischer's car. It implicated St. Fleur, who worked at Boca Tanning. But he wouldn't talk.
MLB's role in the unseemly caper has never been clear; investigators believed that Fischer was somehow in on the plot, which Fischer vehemently denies and which is extremely unlikely.
The new report from Boca PD sheds some light on MLB's role. First, it notes that Hill "repeatedly told MLB that the files were stolen." Despite that warning, the detective writes, "at no point did anyone from MLB contact me and offer information related to this criminal case until I called them in early November, almost 8 months later."
But as far as Boca PD is concerned, the investigation is closed; St. Fleur has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of burglary and grand theft. League Vice President Pat Courtney says of MLB, "We have stated repeatedly that we had no knowledge that the documents we purchased were stolen."
As for the man at the center of the case — Tony Bosch — a federal grand jury has reportedly convened to consider his case, but no charges have been filed.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.