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| Crime |

Tony Bosch: I Wasn't as Bad as BALCO Chief Victor Conte, So Go Easy on Me

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Next Tuesday, Biogenesis chief Tony Bosch will learn how long he'll spend in federal prison for running an illegal steroid operation. On one hand, he's admitted to supplying dozens of Major Leaguers -- and at least 18 Miami high schoolers -- with 'roids. He's also fessed to helping run a testosterone ring in the Dominican Republic aimed at young players.

But in a new filing this morning, Bosch argues the courts should go easy on him because he helped MLB suspend his clients, including A-Rod and Ryan Braun, and worked with prosecutors to go after his cohorts.

His attorneys also make a more novel argument: That his crime didn't approach that of baseball's other most infamous steroid dealer, BALCO Chief Victor Conte.

See also: Tony Bosch and Biogenesis: MLB Steroid Scandal

"The scale of Conte's scheme far surpasses this case," Bosch's attorney, Guy Lewis, writes. "No case is more infamous than that of the steroid distribution ring that led to nationally beloved baseball hero Barry Bonds falling from grace."

Therefore, Lewis argues, Bosch should get less time than Conte, who eventually served four months in prison and four months house arrest.

It's an interesting argument sure to spark barstool debate among baseball fans. True, BALCO was the first mass scandal of the Steroid Era and implicated Bonds, a guy who'd later break the all-time home run mark.

But Bosch's Biogenesis case ultimately ensnared more players; the 15 pro ballplayers suspended in the case were the most ever snagged in a U.S. doping scandal. And Alex Rodriguez, Bosch's star client, is arguably every bit as big a tarnished icon as Bonds.

The BALCO scandal did have the added juice of including Olympic athletes, but unlike Conte, Bosch's operation included PEDs for minors, including some pre-teen ballplayers.

Beyond the debatable Conte comparison, Bosch asks Judge Gayle to consider his cooperation with MLB and federal prosecutors. He says he undertook significant risk in doing so. Lewis writes:

Throughout the past year, Mr. Bosch was forced to maintain security, who was then required to take protective measures. Each time, Mr. Bosch was forced to abruptly end his current activity or engagement and quickly leave the area. Too often, Mr. Bosch was personally confronted and even followed by unidentified vehicles. Occasionally, the security detail took extreme measures to evade these individuals.

It became necessary to move Mr. Bosch from hotel to hotel at times. Individuals would watch Mr. Bosch and his family. As a result, the strain and stress on Mr. Bosch and his family has been relentless.

Of course, that work has come under further glare this week. An attorney in a related criminal case claims that Bosch took thousands MLB earmarked for his protection and secretly spent it at strip clubs, luxury hotels and fancy dinners instead.

The plea for leniency even includes one questionable claim in Bosch's biography. Lewis writes that Bosch "played high school baseball for four years and played two years of college baseball."

While reporting Blood Sport, the book I wrote on the Biogenesis case, I talked numerous baseball players from Columbus High School who played during Bosch's years at the school. None recalled him playing beyond freshman year, where he made little impression on the field. Yearbooks only show him on that freshman squad. (New Times has asked Lewis to explain the discrepancy; we'll update this post when we hear back.)

Bosch, who admitted to federal agents that he had a daily cocaine habit, also tells the judge he's taken rehab seriously and has kicked the addiction. He includes 80 pages worth of letters of support from friends and family asking Gayles to be lenient.

He'll learn Gayles' decision on Tuesday morning.


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