Crime

Alex Rodriguez Sued By Ex-UM Coach Lazer Collazo Over Biogenesis Records


In January 2013, in the days after New Times published an investigation linking Alex Rodriguez to Coral Gables clinic Biogenesis, the Yankees slugger scrambled to obtain the medical records at the heart of the story. His associates eventually bought two sets, for $4,000 and later $200,000. 

A year later — after his fight to avoid a record suspension failed — A-Rod handed those same records over to federal prosecutors, who used them to charge seven men connected to Biogenesis, including Lazer Collazo, an ex-UM pitching coach whom the feds accused of recruiting young athletes to the clinic.  But Collazo beat those charges, pleading instead to a misdemeanor count of buying a steroids for himself. 

Now, he's targeting A-Rod for giving the feds those records that led to the criminal case. Collazo has filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade court against the third baseman, arguing that his medical privacy rights were violated in the process.

The records at the heart of the case followed a complicated path from Biogenesis to prosecutors. They were first obtained by Porter Fischer, a disgruntled employee who leaked them to New Times.  

Just before the story ran, A-Rod's camp paid $4,000 for the records through an intermediary. (Fischer has always maintained he believed that the clinic's owner, Tony Bosch, was paying him the money, which he says was the amount he was owed in back pay.)
Later that summer, another batch of medical records was stolen from Fischer's car as he used a tanning salon in Boca Raton. A convicted felon named Gary Jones later sold those records to A-Rod's camp for $200,000.

All those records eventually counted for naught in A-Rod's bid to avoid a long suspension for his Biogenesis steroid use, though. After a lengthy arbitration fight, A-Rod was hit with a year-long ban in early 2014.

That's when A-Rod began cooperating with federal prosecutors; in March 2014, A-Rod's then-attorney, Joe Tacopina, handed over copies of the records to the feds as part of the baseball star's limited immunity arrangement from prosecution.

And those records helped the feds level charges against Collazo, along with Bosch and five others. While the other defendants all pleaded guilty to felony charges, Collazo beat his case.

Now, he says, A-Rod should pay for his role in getting the medical records to the feds. "(His) purchase ... of plaintiff Collazo's confidential medical records/information constitutes misconduct that is atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community," Collazo's attorney, Frank Quintero Jr., writes in the complaint.

In addition to A-Rod, the suit also names Jose "Pepe" Gomez, a longtime Rodriguez friend who allegedly helped arrange the Biogenesis file purchases, and Guidepost Solutions, a private investigation firm that also played a role.

Collazo cites emotional distress, invasion of privacy and negligence and asks for damages above $15,000. 

It's not yet clear who is representing A-Rod or the other plaintiffs in the case.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink