From the get-go, Major League Baseball made no secret that one of the costs of doing business with Tony Bosch was a promise to ask the courts to go easy when criminal charges came down. (You remember Bosch, the Coral Gables steroid dealer who snitched on Alex Rodriguez and more than a dozen other players.) Now, thanks to evidence recently introduced in Miami federal court, it's clear just how seriously MLB took its promise.
Nearly six months before Bosch was indicted, the new filings show, lawyers working with MLB sent U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer a ten-page letter outlining how Bosch's cooperation was key in punishing A-Rod and his other ex-clients. Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell -- author of a famed report on steroid abuse in the game -- even met with Ferrer as A-Rod's case was ongoing. That meeting took place in September 2013.
The letter, written by Baltimore attorney Charles Scheeler, is dated January 23, 2013, about two weeks after an arbitration board upheld A-Rod's season-long suspension for buying drugs from Bosch.
The letter outlines just how vital Bosch's cooperation was to making the case against Rodriguez, as well as 13 other pros, including former UM star Ryan Braun.
The letter emphasizes that the suspensions are also key to discouraging young athletes from using steroids. "MLB maintains that Anthony Bosch has not only provided invaluable assistance to it in enabling the successful suspension of fourteen players, but also has assisted in sending an important message to young athletes who emulate their heroes," the letter says.
Bosch did so, the league emphasizes, at great risk to himself. After agreeing to cooperate against the former clients of his clinic, Biogenesis, Bosch was followed around Miami and believed his life was in danger, the league writes.
He also faced a public-relations backlash orchestrated by A-Rod's attorneys, they say, including accusations that Bosch was addicted to cocaine (a claim Bosch himself later admitted to federal agents was true.)
And Bosch cooperated even though he knew the feds would use his MLB testimony against him in criminal court.
As a whole, MLB argues, the feds should take that cooperation into account.
"These facts, we respectfully submit, merit serious consideration as mitigating circumstances," they write, as the feds considered charges against Bosch.
In August, six months after the letter was written, the feds charged Bosch and nine of his associates in a mass criminal case. Bosch has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing next month. He faces up to a decade in prison but, thanks in part to MLB's intervention, is expected to get no more than two or three years.
The letter is remarkable not only in its strong defense of Bosch -- a guy who sold steroids to scores of ballplayers, from pros and high-schoolers to minors in the Dominican Republic -- but also because of Mitchell's involvement. The senator's role in meeting Ferrer has thus far been unreported.
Other defendants tied to Bosch are sure to seize upon the promises to back Bosch up as evidence that MLB interfered in the federal criminal case against it. The letter was introduced in a filing by Frank Quintero, an attorney representing Lazer Collazo, a former college and youth coach charged with recruiting clients for Bosch.
MLB investigators have already been criticized for paying and threatening potential witnesses and -- in the case of its former lead investigator -- even sleeping with a former employee at Biogenesis.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
MLB hasn't returned a request to comment on the letter. We'll update this post if we hear back.