A source says Yankees star Alex Rodriguez paid $305,000 for evidence that could have incriminated him or that would be used in his defense in an arbitration or court proceeding.
As Major League Baseball closed in on Tony Bosch’s doping operation, a desperate Alex Rodriguez paid $305,000 for evidence involved in the investigation linking him to multiple violations of MLB’s collectively bargained drug agreement and an eventual 211-game ban handed down by Commissioner Bud Selig.
A source familiar with the arbitration proceedings at baseball’s Park Avenue offices in which Rodriguez is appealing his suspension, told the Daily News that Rodriguez and his representatives confirmed during sworn testimony this week that Rodriguez forked over the $305,000 to buy “various forms of evidence,” including videotapes, documents and affidavits that could have incriminated him or that would be used in his defense in an arbitration or court proceeding.
The admission came as documents were submitted to arbiter Fredric Horowitz, who is expected to rule in December on whether Rodriguez’s suspension will stand, be reduced or thrown out. Rodriguez’s legal team, led by criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina, has accused MLB in the press and in a lawsuit filed against the league in New York State Court of conducting a “witch hunt” in its investigation and of paying for evidence as well, a claim MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred has previously confirmed, both publicly and in the arbitration hearing this week. A spokesman for Rodriguez was not immediately available comment.
Manfred told the Daily News following a report Friday night that during the arbitration he had acknowledged paying $125,000 for documents related to the investigation of Bosch and his Biogenesis anti-aging clinic that MLB’s actions were “perfectly legal. There is nothing wrong with purchasing documents in an investigation. We did it in the course of trying to see if we had players using performance-enhancing drugs in violation of our agreement. I’ve acknowledged it previously.”
The acknowledgements of payments for documents may have come this week but it has been reported for months that both sides purchased the troves of records, notes, drug arrays and other documents that once belonged to Bosch, who began cooperating with MLB several months ago and is its chief witness against Rodriguez. MLB eventually suspended more than a dozen players who were linked to Bosch and Biogenesis; only Rodriguez has appealed his suspension.
Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch is escorted by security person Ric Burnham (r.) at MLB’s headquarters.
Meanwhile, the arbitration completed its second week Friday, the same day that a group supporting Rodriguez took out a full-page ad in the New York Times accusing Selig of turning a blind eye on steroid abuse.
“Bud Selig is a disgrace to the game, to the players and our children,” said the advertisement, which was signed by Hispanics Across America president Fernando Mateo, who has led protests outside MLB’s offices during the arbitration. It’s not clear who picked up the tab for the black-and-white advertisement that appeared in the sports section of the Times. A newspaper industry executive estimated that a full-page ad in the newspaper costs $75,000 or more.
“A full-page black-and-white advocacy ad, which is the category the Rodriguez advertisement falls in, can cost upwards of $100,000,” Times blogger Jay Schreiber wrote. HAA appears to operate on a shoestring budget: The organization ended 2011 with just $1 in assets, according to the latest available documents filed with the New York State Attorney General and the Internal Revenue Service.
Mateo hung up when a Daily News reporter asked him who paid for the ad.
Mateo and other HAA officials have said that Rodriguez and his legal team are not paying them to organize the daily rallies outside MLB headquarters. Mateo told The News earlier this month that “donors” have paid for the pizzas and T-shirts that have been distributed to protesters. He declined to identify those donors, however, claiming that they wish to remain anonymous.
Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News
A-Rod is appealing a 211-game suspension.
Earlier this week, Hispanics Across America rolled out a website — supporta-rod13.com — that asks for donations of $50, $100, $500 or $1,000 to HAA to help the group stop “the injustice regarding the 211-game suspension.”
A spokesman for Rodriguez said the embattled Yankee superstar had nothing to do with the ad. The spokesman said he was not even aware of the ad until a reporter asked him about it on Friday.
The ad also claimed that Rodriguez, if he is guilty of violating MLB’s drug policy, should receive the same treatment as other first-time offenders. The 12 other players suspended on Aug. 5 for their role in the Biogenesis doping scandal received 50-game suspensions. Milwaukee Brewer outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game ban in July.
“We oppose the double standard MLB is applying to A-Rod,” the ad said. “And if they can do it to him, no Hispanic player is safe from unfair treatment.”
MLB officials, however, claim that A-Rod is not a first-time offender, and that his historic suspension is warranted because he violated the drug policy repeatedly over multiple years. They also claim, as became apparent this week, that Rodriguez attempted to interfere with their Biogenesis investigation.
“The question,” said one lawyer who has followed the case closely, is: What was Alex Rodriguez’s purpose for purchasing documents? We know what Major League Baseball’s was.”
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