February 17, 2015 / 2:38 PM / 4 years ago

Former Florida clinic owner gets four years prison in baseball doping case

MIAMI (Reuters) - The owner of a Florida clinic that supplied steroids to professional baseball players, putting it at the center of a scandal that led to Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez’s suspension, was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday.

Anthony Bosch, 51, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to distribute testosterone and had sought leniency from a federal judge due to his cooperation with federal and Major League Baseball investigators.

But U.S. District Court Judge Darrin Gayles refused to give Bosch less than the four years agreed to by prosecutors, describing the owner of the now-defunct anti-aging Biogenesis clinic as the mastermind of an operation that also supplied performance-enhancing drugs to high school athletes.

“One can only imagine the horror of a parent who has unwittingly taken a child to Mr. Bosch and watched as he used a syringe to inject a controlled substance into their children,” the judge said during a hearing in the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

Bosch became a key witness for MLB, which has been paying his legal and security bills after suspending more than a dozen players based on information he provided.

Choking back tears, he apologized for putting lives in jeopardy.

“My choices were terrible and I’m ashamed of myself,” he said.

Professional athletes paid Bosch as much as $12,000 per month for testosterone-filled syringes and creams, federal officials have said. He was also accused of selling performance-enhancing drugs to high school athletes, charging between $250 and $600 per month, according to an indictment.

Gayles said Bosch was under the influence of cocaine when he committed his crime.

Bosch’s cooperation with MLB investigators led to the suspensions of Rodriguez; Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who was the National League’s most valuable player in 2011; Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz; Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres and Jhonny Peralta of the St. Louis Cardinals.

None of the players have faced criminal charges.

Rodriguez apologized on Tuesday in a letter to fans for the mistakes that led to his suspension. He has not appeared in a game since Sept. 25, 2013.

Bosch also has served as a witness for the federal government in prosecuting a handful of former associates from his former clinic.

His business partner, Alex Rodriguez’s cousin Yuri Sucart, and five others were charged in July indictments with crimes ranging from distributing testosterone to conspiring to sell the club drug known as “Molly.”

Some have pleaded guilty. Former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro Collazo and Sucart are awaiting trials, at which Bosch is expected to testify.

He will seek a reduced sentence after he testifies and completes a drug rehabilitation program, his attorney Guy Lewis said on Tuesday.

Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Susan Heavey and Lisa Lambert

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