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Biogenesis Chief Tony Bosch Gets Four Years in Federal Pen

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Update: Shortly after Bosch's sentencing, Alex Rodriguez issued his first apology to fans for secretly buying banned drugs from Bosch for years.

This morning, U.S. District Court Judge Darrin Gayles sentenced Biogenesis chief Tony Bosch to 48 months in federal prison and three years of probation upon his release on charges related to his infamous Coral Gables steroid clinic. The judge denied a request from Bosch's lawyer, Guy Lewis, a former U.S. attorney in Miami, for a lower sentence owing to his cooperation with prosecutors.

Gayles instead sentenced Bosch to the upper end of sentencing guidelines. He also denied Lewis' request that his client be given another 60 days in drug rehab before beginning his prison term. Bosch instead surrendered a half-hour after the hearing.

See also: Tony Bosch and Biogenesis: MLB Steroid Scandal

Gayles cited Bosch's regular steroid injections of minors -- including at least 18 high-school athletes in Miami -- in giving him the stiff sentence.

"One can only imagine the horror of a parent who was unwittingly taking their child to Tony Bosch for what they believed was licensed treatments by a legitimate medical professional," Gayles said, "and then watching Bosch doing courses of treatment without any legitimate cause, watching him use syringes to conduct medicine he was not licensed to practice, while we now know Tony Bosch was often under the influence of cocaine."

Bosch audibly wept from the defense bench, clutching a white handkerchief to his face as Gayles spoke. Two rows full of family members and friends watched, several also crying.

Earlier, Lewis had painted a picture of Bosch as a failed medical student with an out-of-control drug habit that led him to open his notorious steroid clinic. After failing his boards following a stint at a Belizean medical school, Bosch soon turned to the illegal world of steroid distribution.

"If he'd passed his boards, maybe we wouldn't be here today," Lewis said. "He still loved medicine. He still loved baseball and other sports. This all started with him trying to help people nutritionally... but then, Judge, he lost his way."

Lewis argued that Bosch's decision to cooperate with Major League Baseball to help suspend his clients -- including stars Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Nelson Cruz -- should merit leniency.

He also cited Bosch's work with federal prosecutors, which helped the feds indict seven other co-conspirators -- five of whom have already pleaded guilty. The feds' lead prosecutor, Patrick Sullivan, praised that work and suggested the lowest recommended sentence of 41 months.

Bosch himself, crying and speaking with difficulty, apologized to Gayles. "What started with something good in my heart many years ago turned into something I'm very ashamed of," he said. "I'm ashamed of myself and remorseful."

But Judge Gayles interrupted Lewis as the defense attorney tried to minimize the harm Bosch had done to the young athletes who visited his office. Lewis argued that "acne" was the worst side effect any of the children suffered from taking steroids, which drew the judge's ire.

"The immediate symptoms may be acne," he said. "But how do we know the long-term result? These were not medically necessary drugs."

Indeed, Gayles said it was Bosch's admitted sale of drugs to minors that most shaped his sentence.

"I'm dismayed that so much attention has focused on the role of Major League Baseball," Gayles said, rather than on the minors going to Biogenesis.

So Gayles hit Bosch with four years -- a sentence significantly longer than that handed down to Victor Conte, the mastermind of BALCO, which had previously been MLB's biggest steroid scandal. Conte served only four months in prison and four months of probation.

Bosch's family gasped -- with one crying, "Why?" -- when Gayles also refused to give Bosch another 60 days at a drug treatment facility before reporting to federal prison. Instead, he ordered the steroid dealer to surrender within a half-hour.

After the hearing, Bosch rushed out of the courtroom with an associate and disappeared down an elevator.

Porter Fischer, the whistleblower who leaked records from the clinic, says he was gratified by the sentence. "I have to commend this judge for taking such a strong stand because of Bosch's crimes and the fact that he was giving steroids to children," says Fischer, who sat in the back row through the hearing.

Two criminal cases tied to Biogenesis remain open in federal court, against Lazer Collazo -- a former University of Miami pitching coach -- and Yuri Sucart, Alex Rodriguez's cousin.

Update: Last time A-Rod admitting to using steroids, the confession came with a full-blown media apology tour and a speaking gig with the anti-steroid advocate Taylor Hooton Foundation.

This time around, Rodriguez has gone minimalist. Here's the handwritten apology he released to fans shortly after Bosch's sentencing:


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