MLB took risks to bring down doping players in Biogenesis scandal

Illustration by ESPN

It was barely a month into the 2013 season, and the leaders of Major League Baseball were desperate. Bud Selig was a lame-duck commissioner wanting to put a hammer once and for all to the yearslong steroid issue born on his watch. His chief understudy and presumed commissioner-in-waiting, Rob Manfred, was overseeing New York-based MLB investigators who nearly a year earlier had been shipped south to investigate player-doping ties to a Miami clinic known as Biogenesis of America.

Baseball, at last, seemed positioned to nail down cases against two long-suspected doping nemeses -- Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun -- and had heard there could be more than a dozen other ballplayers caught up in the scheme.

The commissioner's office was done playing nice. Major League Baseball filed a lawsuit that publicly identified previously unknown targets of an active federal investigation, including people who had been wiretapped -- a move that angered those close to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation. The league paid money to witnesses to ensure they would talk. Others were fed and liquored up by league employees. The league paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to a cunning ex-convict named Gary Jones for copies of stolen Biogenesis notebooks and records. But the real key -- and the only base that remained uncovered at the time -- was getting to the heart and mind of clinic operator Tony Bosch, the central character of the largest doping operation in American sports history.

Baseball officials needed a deal for Bosch to come clean about the scope of the scandal so it could be moved on from. They also needed to best the Alex Rodriguez camp for Bosch's loyalty; A-Rod, through intermediaries, had been offering Bosch money and relocation if he stopped cooperating with everyone. So, at a casual waterfront South Florida restaurant, Major League Baseball made its best offer to Bosch and struck a multimillion-dollar mutual cooperation agreement June 3. In the end, Bosch's cooperation -- his confirmation of athletes' use and decoding of previously obtained clinic logs -- sealed baseball's case against its drug cheats, most importantly the lead target of MLB's investigation, Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez.

ESPN has found, though, that Major League Baseball not only paid a hefty financial price for Bosch's cooperation but, even more, risked huge potential embarrassment in signing him up as it counted on and simultaneously tried to cater to the whims of the unlicensed clinician -- described as a "troubled man" by an MLB official -- who had dealt substances to minors, had a cocaine addiction and drank Scotch heavily.

Ultimately, the investigation would taint almost everyone it touched. Not only the professional athletes and steroid dealers but also a cadre of respected professionals entangled in unsavory tactics -- including doctors and lawyers, personal trainers and talent agents, and from the players' union right up to the commissioner's office. Everyone seemingly consumed by a hell-bent, win-at-all-costs mentality.

The story of how Major League Baseball and Bosch became so deeply intertwined is found in more than 1,400 pages of federal DEA documents obtained by ESPN, in court records, and in interviews with Bosch and others close to baseball over several years. The scandal surrounding Bosch and his Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic broke open in 2013, and before it was over, 21 professional baseball players connected to Biogenesis were suspended by Major League Baseball, including A-Rod, Braun, Nelson Cruz and Bartolo Colon.

The confidential documents are from the DEA investigation -- dubbed "Operation Strikeout" and opened by the feds a decade ago after being approached by MLB officials -- of Bosch and his associates. The pages consist of federal agents' notes from interviews conducted with a dozen professional athletes, other Biogenesis patients and employees, and confidential sources, as well as briefs from surveillance operations and executed search warrants.

The unredacted documents offer a remarkable look inside the MLB-Bosch deal:

  • Although the MLB-Bosch cooperation agreement spelled out that the league was not to provide compensation or "anything else of value" to Bosch -- true with any witness in potential litigation -- Major League Baseball paid almost $2 million, alone, for Bosch's personal security, twice the figure originally agreed upon. Bosch's security detail was led by a Biogenesis client and included a trio of his longtime friends -- none of whom were experienced or licensed at the time as security professionals.

  • By paying Bosch's attorney fees as well as the cost of his security detail, MLB assisted in covering Bosch's overdue child support. Additionally, cash was diverted to the benefit of Bosch, fueling a lavish lifestyle of high-end hotel stays and rent for million-dollar condos. He partied at bars and strip clubs on MLB's dime.

  • Federal documents reveal that six weeks after signing the MLB agreement, Bosch contacted a performance-enhancing drug source -- identified as "Eddie" -- and attempted to purchase drugs, telling the supplier "he was back at work." A confidential source provided DEA agents a photo of the text message, which was originally sent by Bosch from a cellphone belonging to the head of his security detail -- Bhalraj "Raj" Badree, a Biogenesis client whose name appears in clinic logs.

  • A few weeks after the MLB deal was made, a former girlfriend of Bosch's told federal authorities that Bosch appeared at her front door around 5 in the morning, very loud and appearing to be "coked up." She and Bosch were driven in an SUV by his security boss to a Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, where Bosch was staying on MLB's dime. She feared Bosch might kill himself and described him as paranoid, saying he stood on the balcony and claimed "the DEA was watching him from below." She also told federal agents of seeing two small bags of what appeared to be cocaine in the room, adding that Bosch did cocaine "bumps." The next night, scrolling through Bosch's cellphone as he slept, she also found text exchanges between Bosch and an MLB investigator.

  • Bosch told ESPN that he took advantage of breaks during prep sessions with MLB officials for Rodriguez's arbitration hearing in New York and during the actual hearing itself in early October 2013 to snort cocaine. "MLB knew it," Bosch said. "When they would see me die down -- 'Hey, you need a bathroom break?' And I would go to the bathroom and 'whack, whack' and go back." Top MLB officials denied Bosch's claim.

Testifying at Rodriguez's arbitration hearing in October 2013, Rob Manfred said baseball officials had not asked Bosch about his cocaine use before executing the cooperation agreement with him. Manfred suggested that he remained unaware of Bosch's substance abuse addiction, adding "I didn't become aware of it -- as a matter of fact, as I sit here today, all I know is you [an attorney representing Rodriguez] asked him a question about it and he took the Fifth."

But MLB investigators, A-Rod's team and media closely covering the story were keenly aware of Bosch's lifestyle at the time. During multiple interviews in South Florida, investigators were told of Bosch's drug use and included the information in email and text messages as well as reports entered in a case management system -- all of which were available to Selig, Manfred and other top MLB management personnel. Bosch twice tested positive for cocaine while out on bail in August 2014 and later entered a drug rehab program.

Bosch's deal with MLB came after he had begun running out of options. By spring 2013, Bosch's small, nondescript Coral Gables anti-aging clinic had been shuttered for nearly six months, and money proved tight. MLB had filed a lawsuit against a handful of people tied to Biogenesis -- including Bosch and his younger brother, Ashley -- alleging that their involvement with players was interfering with the game's business. Intermediaries for Rodriguez, also caught up in the scandal, had tried to strike a deal with Bosch, but Bosch had demanded too much money and proved too unreliable.

So, Bosch, with ulterior motives in mind, gave in to lobbying from the late ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez, a Miami acquaintance, for an on-camera interview. Bosch refused to address questions about his athlete clients, describing himself as a nutritionist who had been falsely accused by the media, adding, "I don't know anything about performance-enhancing drugs."

"The idea was he got his interview, and I got a message out," Bosch later told ESPN. "OK, who was going to watch this? Well, Ryan Braun was obviously going to watch it. Alex [Rodriguez] was going to watch it. ... The message I was sending out was basically, 'Listen, I am ready to talk.' I had run out of resources. So, it was almost like a message to Alex, 'Stop messing with me.' And it was a message to MLB, 'Let's talk.'

"Listen, five minutes after that interview [aired], Rob Manfred called [Julio Ayala, one of Bosch's attorneys]. And the meeting [with MLB] was set up. We met at Scotty's Landing. And it was Dan Halem [MLB's chief legal officer, who has since added the title of deputy commissioner] and Manfred [then the game's chief operating officer]. His first words were, 'I'd love to write you a $5 million check right now, but I can't.' I said, 'I don't want your money. Don't get me wrong, if you want to give it to me, I'll take it. What I am negotiating is my safety. The safety of my kids.'"

Manfred testified at A-Rod's arbitration hearing that he contacted Gomez, the ESPN reporter, immediately after the interview aired to advise "we sure as heck did want to speak to [Bosch]."

MLB officials believed what Bosch had to say about players, especially since MLB investigators had also purchased and were in possession of his clinic logs.

"Credibility from my perspective is not really about personality," Manfred told ESPN, referring to Bosch. "It's more about what does he say to you, how do you line it up against what you already know, and does it seem like he's telling you the truth. And he was good on that front.

"He had an awful lot of knowledge about things that he could not possibly have had unless the way he was representing himself was true."

The gist of the eventual deal was Bosch would help baseball, most significantly serving as its principal fact witness in any arbitration proceedings with Rodriguez, and MLB in turn would foot the bill for his attorney fees and personal security, which between them ended up totaling well north of $5 million.

MLB officials declined to reveal how much the league spent on Bosch or the total cost of baseball's Biogenesis investigation.

Even though aware Bosch had dealt performance-enhancing drugs to teenagers, baseball officials also promised to put in a solid word on his behalf with federal prosecutors in Miami, which federal documents reveal was done through their go-to outside counsel and consultant, the DLA Piper law firm and former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell. Charles Scheeler, then a partner in the firm, also told ESPN he appeared on baseball's behalf at Bosch's sentencing hearing.

Documents reveal Mitchell had himself traveled to Miami in late September 2013 to discuss the case with Wifredo A. "Willy" Ferrer, the then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida -- a meeting viewed as highly unusual within the legal community. After the arbitrator's ruling to suspend Rodriguez 162 games, Scheeler, an attorney in Mitchell's office, began a letter "Dear Willy," in which Ferrer was reminded of the earlier meeting and of Bosch's cooperation, particularly in the case against A-Rod.

The MLB probe, directed by Manfred, was so desperate to make its case that it paid an ex-con with a lengthy rap sheet $150,000 in wads of cash for copies of medical records stolen from Bosch's clinic. The transactions took place at a now-shuttered South Florida diner. Gary Jones, an ex-convict, signed an affidavit that in March 2013 an MLB investigator paid him $125,000, detailing "cash was in $100 bills, in $1,000 bands, which were then in $10,000 bands." He was paid $25,000 a month later for additional stolen documents. He also went on to sell stolen documents to Alex Rodriguez's camp.

Why pay in cash? "That's how [Jones] wanted the money," Manfred answered at A-Rod's arbitration hearing.

Jones, a career criminal, had a prior federal felony conviction for handling counterfeit cash. In 2014, a year after cashing in on the sale of stolen Biogenesis records and in an unrelated case, Jones was charged and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic counterfeit drugs and possession of a firearm after conviction for a felony. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

Bosch told ESPN he didn't even know Jones and that Jones had "conned the cons. ... When they asked me, 'So how long have you known Jones,' I go, "Who the f---'s Jones? I've never met this guy in my life. 'No, he's a tanning machine repairman.' I go, 'What?'"

Even today, MLB and the A-Rod camp accuse the other side of dirty tricks. But while both compensated witnesses in some instances for interviews and, in the case of Jones, clinic records and notebooks, A-Rod's team of lawyers and investigators claim, unlike MLB, to have provided receipts for payments.

Joe Tacopina, who was A-Rod's lead attorney, told ESPN funds were wired to Jones and accompanied by a tax identification number, which he said is required by the Internal Revenue Service for an individual transaction of more than $10,000. "I wasn't aware of this form at the time the transaction took place," Manfred said when asked by Tacopina at the arbitration hearing if he were familiar with the IRS requirement.

"Everything was sloppy," Tacopina told ESPN. "They were just so hell-bent on getting this guy [Alex Rodriguez]."

Under questioning at the arbitration hearing, Manfred said he and then-commissioner Selig approved payment to Jones for what were stolen clinic logs, saying, "I had no reason to believe that the [clinic] documents were stolen."

On the ground in Miami, MLB's investigators had second-guessed baseball's decision to get in bed with Bosch. They saw it as a panic move from above. They believed that in time, if MLB continued to work with the DEA, the case could be made without Bosch. The DEA plan was to eventually charge Bosch and the others and, in the indictments, to identify and detail the MLB players they supplied. They had no intention of charging the players, but they would give baseball sufficient grounds to take action against A-Rod and the other players.

Sources said it was Selig, impatient and with his reign as commissioner coming to an end, who ultimately made the decision to align with Bosch and step away from the slower, by-the-book DEA's timeline or investigation.

"Knowing what he was and then working with [Bosch], it's just mind-boggling," said a source close to the investigation. "Often, in law enforcement you deal with people, work through and ultimately figure them out. Here, you knew what he was."

Criminal defense attorney Silvia Pinera-Vazquez was someone who had known Bosch since the eighth grade. Both of their fathers were doctors, and they ran in the same social circle growing up. Miami tends to be the rare big city where connections still run tight, especially in the Cuban community. When Bosch was first feeling out MLB, his sole attorney was Julio Ayala -- a close high school friend who practiced maritime law.

Pinera-Vazquez happened to be visiting Ayala's home before Bosch's meeting with MLB officials. With the realization that their friend could eventually face federal charges, which was beyond Ayala's field of expertise, Pinera-Vazquez offered to tag along for the meeting.

Pinera-Vazquez remembers Manfred initially brushing her off as the group sat outside around a wooden table.

"He had no idea who I was," said the former assistant U.S. attorney. "He was really focused on Julio and talking to Julio. At a point, I remember stopping him, and I looked at him. He had these [sunglasses] on. I said, 'First of all. I don't talk to anyone whose eyes I cannot see. So, can you please take off your glasses?' So, he took off his glasses.

"He kept saying, 'Don't worry about Tony. We just want to talk to Tony. We'll give Tony immunity on anything that happens.' I go to him, 'You are not a government entity. You have no authority whatsoever to give immunity to Tony.' And then once he realized who he was talking to, he sort of back-pedaled."

Pinera-Vazquez later officially joined the Bosch defense team for a time and focused on the A-Rod arbitration, particularly concerned that nothing Bosch told MLB would be used against him in his federal criminal case. She communicated directly with MLB about Biogenesis clients, not Bosch. She said his only direct statements to MLB dealt with A-Rod and noted that Bosch took the Fifth Amendment at the arbitration hearing on anything unrelated to Rodriguez.

At the hearing in New York, the attorney recalled jumping in as A-Rod engaged Bosch. "During a break, Tony got up to go to the bathroom and I see Alex following," Pinera-Vazquez told ESPN. "I went right over. As they get close to the bathrooms, I hear Alex say to Tony: 'Every dog has its day." I said something or asked what was going on. [Alex] gets scared and starts humming or singing 'Every dog has his day' -- acting like nothing is going on and just humming."

Back in Miami, Bosch did not hide that he was working with Major League Baseball. He crossed paths with an old girlfriend, Claudia Cosculluela. Cosculluela, then a high school English teacher, told federal authorities that Bosch spoke of his having met MLB officials, telling her "he was going to make millions and for her to quit her job." According to notes from her interview, Cosculluela said Bosch later turned suspicious, asking her to remove her necklace and checking it for a microphone. Bosch told her he knew she had already met with MLB investigators, adding that he claimed "[Commissioner Bud] Selig gave him all of the details contained within the affidavit."

Cosculluela, who declined ESPN's repeated attempts for comment, and Bosch parted ways after the awkward exchange. Then, later in the summer, she described to federal authorities an apparently "coked up" Bosch appearing at her front door in the early morning hours, delivered by his hulking security chief being paid by Major League Baseball.

Cosculluela also revealed that she had been given $9,000 cash for her cooperation by MLB investigators, who also picked up the tab for alcohol and food during a handful of meetings at high-end local restaurants and bars.

Documents further reveal MLB paid $5,500 to Porter Fischer, a clinic investor/marketing manager who emerged as a whistleblower.

Manuel "Manny" Delgado, a clinic customer who took a job delivering medications for Bosch, told authorities he gave MLB investigators a bottle containing either growth hormone or peptides in return for $1,000. He also told of signing a confidentiality agreement with baseball's investigators.

Another clinic staffer was paid $3,762 by MLB.

Another had almost $30,000 paid for attorney fees.

Another client/clinic investor was paid $5,000 and an additional $2,500 for attorney fees.

If Bosch was to be helpful in MLB taking down A-Rod, he needed to be cleaned up. His attorneys advised DEA agents before his first interview that "he had a substance abuse addiction problem." His oldest daughter from his first marriage, 36-year-old Danni, worried herself sick, fearing he was too old to be doing drugs. Bosch told ESPN his cocaine use started as recreational in 2010 and evolved into a near-daily habit over the ensuing four years and claimed to have blown through $800,000. He envisioned ending up dead or in jail.

After the Rodriguez arbitration hearing in October 2013, Bosch said he spent several months in a Boca Raton rehab facility before being sent to prison.

Before then, though, MLB paid crisis management consultant Joyce Fitzpatrick more than $300,000, through Bosch's attorneys, to ready him for the public spotlight as best she could. Bosch was neatly groomed, his appearance freshened for the arbitration, and his consultant sent out a new photo and requested the media discontinue using his old mug shot. Bosch said he was prepped 30 hours for the hearing by a former White House correspondent. He was booked across from Scott Pelley on "60 Minutes," appearing in prime time on CBS a night after the arbitrator's decision to ban Rodriguez for 162 games. A copy of the interview would later be subpoenaed by investigators.

Bosch said the segment was taped at least a couple of weeks before in a "cool art studio" in Hell's Kitchen -- "Special place for a special story," he said. He didn't leave a fan of Pelley's aggressive interview style, but he did appreciate the bottle of Glenlivet 18 Scotch in his dressing room. "Of course, I grabbed a drink," he said.

At the time, Bosch told ESPN, he was self-medicating to deal with the stress. As the arbitration hearing approached, the burden of testifying against A-Rod weighed heavily on him. The night before he was to first appear, surrounded by his team of attorneys and security friends at the Intercontinental Hotel in New York, Bosch was having serious second thoughts. "There was a point I was literally going to get on a plane and leave," Bosch told ESPN.

"He felt bad talking about A-Rod and all that," recalled Hernan Dominguez, a lifelong Bosch friend, clinic client and member of his security detail. "He almost didn't do it. He said, 'I can't do this. This is wrong.'

"I go, 'It is already out there. At the end of the day, A-Rod, whatever happens to him, he has a half-billion in the bank. When this is all done, you are going to have nothing and possibly jail time. So, at the end of the day everyone is saving their own skin. Do what you can.'"

Despite the momentary pause, Bosch told ESPN he turned what could have been a nerve-wrecking New York experience into a hot-wired frolic. He loved the spotlight. MLB lawyers huddled with him on nine separate days in advance of the arbitration. MLB security protected him like a foreign dignitary, as Bosch claimed NYPD cops often blocked traffic when he was being driven from MLB's Park Avenue headquarters.

When the meetings were done and the lights went down, Bosch shed the jacket and tie and enjoyed himself.

One night he hit a tequila bar, a place he said was recommended by baseball's top investigator. Another night, in the midst of the arbitration hearings, Bosch said he led a small crew to a nearby karaoke bar. He describes the group as including MLB's senior investigator and baseball's VP of information security.

"I started performing for them," he said. "And you got these guys in suits and ties. I would say, 'Listen, you're not drinking, bro. You can't be drinking water. What the f--- is that? No, get this guy a drink.' ... By this time, they were pounding drinks with me."

That night, as the clock struck 2 a.m., Bosch, in a deep, husky voice, closed his act with a swaying rendition of The Temptations' "My Girl." His security boss, 355-pound Badree, played the role of DJ in the background.

Bosch said it was the life he was living at the time. He said baseball officials knew he was a trip, so they didn't schedule early-morning prep sessions for arbitration. They'd have a friendly off-duty cop join him for nights on the town. And during a bathroom break, he suspects they knew he was getting high.

An attorney present for the hearing told ESPN he remembered at least one incident triggering suspicions. "[Bosch] was wired," the attorney recalled. "I think he got nervous in the beginning of the case, and they took a break. When he came in -- jittery, sniffling. When people do coke, there is something they do with their lips. And he was doing it."

In the end, MLB would cover 16 months of Bosch's security apparatus, which didn't exist before the deal was cut with MLB and ended the day MLB stopped paying for it.

Bosch told ESPN that he had submitted the names of three security firms to MLB for review. He said baseball officials interviewed them and signed off on two. From the finalists, Bosch said he selected a then one-man operation that consisted of a former Biogenesis client -- Badree, a 6-5 former rugby player from British Guyana who looks as if he could play left tackle for the Miami Dolphins.

Most importantly, Manfred said baseball had an obligation to provide Bosch security.

"Our belief is there was a credible threat to Tony Bosch [that] increased as we worked through the [A-Rod] hearing process," Manfred told ESPN. "And we had reasons to believe that the threat remained. And felt we had a commitment to Bosch, to protect him and continue to provide him with security, as a result."

Manfred noted that the Biogenesis saga involved some "rough characters," while also referencing the millions of dollars in player contracts potentially at risk.

Federal authorities, though, never felt Bosch was at risk.

"I don't know of any threats at all that anybody made toward Bosch," said Kevin Stanfill, the former DEA assistant special agent who supervised the Biogenesis investigation. "I think that was all ego. He probably told them that he had threats, but I never heard anything like that."

Bosch's security deal with MLB commenced June 3, 2013, and was to run a year. Payment was not to exceed $2,400 a day, which meant a maximum payout of $876,000. Ultimately, security was afforded Bosch through Oct. 6, 2014 -- a full year after the A-Rod arbitration hearing and after Bosch had been interviewed multiple times and charged by federal authorities. Records indicate MLB paid at least $1,722,126 to the firm headed by Badree.

A Sept. 22, 2013, billing invoice alone revealed a charge of more than $81,000 by Badree's firm -- Professional Protection Inc. -- to Major League Baseball. The fees included $33,600 for an individual to serve as Bosch's driver and security person 24 hours a day over two weeks at $100 per hour. In addition, MLB was hit with a $16,000 charge for a New York car service over nine days, almost $2,000 for car rental and fuel, and nearly $3,500 for private investigative services.

The same invoice showed an almost $20,000 expense for a 24-day stay at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, plus another $5,000 stay at the nearby Hotel Hilton/Grove Isle.

During an April 9, 2014, interview with DEA agents, Bosch told of having only a "minimal security team" consisting of a "driver," which was the then-34-year-old Badree. A former law enforcement official close to the investigation described Badree as "an amateur," adding: "He is more bouncer than security."

Federal documents reveal a handful of mistakes under Badree's watch, including Bosch using his security boss's phone in an attempt to place an order with a steroid supplier. The security boss also is who brought him, apparently drugged up, to his ex-girlfriend's apartment. Even more troubling, it was federal authorities, not his personal security, who advised Bosch during a May 2014 interview that Jorge "Ugi" Velazquez -- his estranged former black-market drugs supplier, an A-Rod associate, and the individual Bosch and MLB most often cited as the need for security -- was living in the same downtown Miami luxury apartment building as Bosch and his wife, who was a month away from giving birth to their daughter.

Later, it was the security boss himself who unwittingly assisted A-Rod's camp in locating Bosch before serving him with a subpoena. One of the team members reached out to Badree, engaged in conversation and, through a series of questions, gathered tidbits about his high-profile client, including the Miami hotel where Bosch was staying at the time.

Badree at least had all the appropriate state licenses, for his firm and for himself. The rest of his security crew -- handpicked by Bosch and paid for by Badree via MLB -- was a ragtag outfit of friends:

  • Hernan Dominguez is an insurance adjuster, former Bosch client and arguably his best friend. Both of their fathers were doctors; Bosch and Dominguez vacationed together as kids. Bosch's late father was Dominguez's godfather. State records indicate Dominguez wasn't licensed as a security officer until November 2013 -- a month after Bosch's role climaxed with his appearance at the A-Rod arbitration hearing. Federal tax records reveal he was paid $32,294 by Badree's firm for 2013.

  • Victor Vidal is a former mortgage loan officer and Bosch friend. State records indicate he was licensed as a security officer in December 2013 -- two months after the A-Rod hearing, although only a month before Vidal himself was indicted on felony bank fraud charges as part of a $49 million mortgage fraud scheme. He pleaded guilty and served prison time until his supervised release in July 2018.

  • Jose "Lefty" Alfonzo was a Bosch roommate and softball teammate from the early 1990s, according to Alfonzo's ex-wife. State records do not indicate he was ever licensed as a security officer.

Major League Baseball was billed at a rate of $100 an hour, although a source said Badree often paid security $50 per hour.

"It is not like I am a bodyguard or security guy or anything like that," Dominguez told ESPN. "His real security detail is Raj. Raj wanted to bring guys on, and Tony was doing a lot of drinking at that time. He didn't want people to see what he was doing. With me, he felt comfortable with what he was doing. He said, 'Hey, I'm going to talk to Raj.'

"I went and got a security license. I was doing my business and stuff like that, but it was extra money. At the same time, I was hanging out with him, anyway. So, I wasn't a full-force security guy. It was more of a buddy that he felt comfortable with.

"If he was going to a restaurant, Raj would call, 'Hey, can you come with us today to have an extra set of eyes?' Whenever Tony needed me, I would pretty much go, and they would pay me by the hour."

Dominguez said he has a permit to carry a gun but not for security work. Badree was the only one licensed to carry on the job, Dominguez said.

Although not a firsthand witness to any threats, Dominguez heard stories about Bosch.

"Like alcohol does to anybody, you are under the influence, and you are probably going to make it bigger, embellish it a lot more," he said regarding Bosch. "It was hard to know what was real and wasn't real. I know the threats were there. I didn't feel threatened because nobody was coming after me.

"Then I thought, 'These guys are professional athletes, millions of dollars -- they are going to send somebody to whack him or beat his ass?' It didn't make a lot of sense, but then he had the threats. I never saw anything where I could say, 'Yeah, that is a threat caused by Alex or somebody else. Or Ryan Braun or anybody else.'"

Badree paints a far darker picture, assessing the threat level to Bosch at the time as a 9.5 on a 1-10 scale. He said most of the intimidation festered in South Florida leading up to Bosch's appearance at the arbitration hearing in New York. He described a car chase where they were followed and uncomfortable scenes of "people watching us in restaurants." He moved Bosch from hotel to hotel in hopes of cooling the scent.

Badree suggests that people close to Rodriguez were "coming after [Bosch] because he had not testified in the Major League Baseball case or given his deposition. So, this was a problem that happened before that [hearing]. So, people did not want him to go there to give his deposition. They were trying to intimidate him or probably shake him down, scare the s--- out of him."

Bosch's security detail -- as well as his eventual lead attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala, another lifetime friend and the wife of fellow Bosch attorney Julio Ayala -- also provided cover from financial jams, according to documents. By April 2014, baseball's star witness was in such a bad financial state that his interviews with federal authorities had to be delayed because a judge was threatening to throw him in jail over unpaid child support payments.

On May 27, 2013, as the deal with MLB was being finalized, family court filings reveal Bosch was $56,460 in arrears. Bosch slipped out of the courtroom during proceedings and never returned, his counsel saying he suffered some breathing issues and "possibly hyper-ventilating." Documents also show counsel advised that his client was "going to start working" with the Major League Baseball commissioner.

Bosch's second wife, Aliette, told federal authorities that a subsequent court order for Bosch to pay $15,000 was paid by his attorney, Ribero-Ayala, via her personal credit card. Court records include a copy of a check she later wrote from her escrow account to instead cover the payment, noting in the memo line at the bottom left that it was for the "Bosch vs. Bosch case."

During the time their attorneys' fees were paid by MLB, court filings reveal multiple checks written by Ribero-Ayala or Badree's security business for child support owed by Bosch. Miami attorney Frank Quintero Jr., who eventually settled a lawsuit against Rodriguez as a result of his client's clinic medical records having been stolen and reviewed, alleged through discovery to have found that Ribero-Ayala and Badree made child support payments on Bosch's behalf totaling more than $30,000.

Quintero, who represented former Miami-area baseball coach Lazaro "Lazer" Collazo, alleged in filings that the two "made numerous and substantial payments for the benefit of Bosch that were wholly outside the terms agreed upon with MLB."

Quintero wrote in a court filing that Bosch used his MLB-paid security boss's bank account "as his personal slush fund."

Quintero alleged that multiple checks had been written from Badree's bank account to Bosch relatives, including: eight to his common-law wife, one to his mother, five to his eldest son, one to his eldest daughter and another to an ex-wife. The attorney submitted a copy of a $7,000 check written to Bosch's common-law wife and another for $7,500 to an ex-wife.

Approached recently by ESPN, Badree said he was unable to discuss his compensation or money spent related to Bosch, saying he was bound by confidentiality agreements with Bosch's attorneys as well as with MLB.

"I can't discuss this matter with you, sir," he said. "You have to talk to Tony's lawyers, and you got to talk to Major League Baseball and their lawyers. They have to come reach out to me, and they're not going to give you information. As far as that, I cannot break this contract."

Questioned by attorney Joe Tacopina at A-Rod's arbitration hearing, Manfred said baseball provided Bosch nothing beyond attorneys' fees and personal security expenses, both of which were covered by the cooperation agreement. Asked whether any money was paid to a Bosch family member, Manfred said, "No."

According to discovery filings, at one point before the case ended, MLB had paid Susy Ribero-Ayala $1,029,703 in legal fees and her husband, Julio Ayala, who has his own separate practice, an additional $466,247. Silvia Pinera-Vazquez was paid $574,764. Guy Lewis, a former U.S. attorney, $285,474. Joyce Fitzpatrick, a North Carolina-based crisis management consultant, $349,683. Someone close to the legal team said there was significant additional compensation paid to the lawyers.

Living high on MLB's dime, records show Bosch and Badree not only holed up in elegant Miami hotels but leased a condo on Miami's exclusive Fisher Island, a tiny barrier island that has one of the nation's richest ZIP codes, for $6,000 the first week of February 2014 -- four months after Bosch served as star witness at the A-Rod arbitration hearing.

Another upscale condo was later leased in downtown Miami for three months and nearly $12,000.

Quintero, the Miami-based attorney, said his investigators found that Bosch also had access to and used Badree's debit card and that MLB indirectly picked up the tab for Bosch's visit to a popular South Florida strip club. He further alleged that some of the monies paid the security detail were kicked back to Bosch.

Quintero suggests MLB's actions and fees paid were excessive. He further suggested to ESPN that both MLB and A-Rod's legal team broke Florida law when they purchased stolen medical records from an ex-con -- Rodriguez paid $200,000 and MLB $150,000.

"They can disguise it any way they want," Quintero told ESPN. "They can describe it as fees, as costs. The [attorney] fees part I understand. Fees are fees. I thought it was an exorbitant amount of fees for the work that was done on the case. But the payment of expenses -- housing expenses, security expenses -- in my opinion, that was totally illegal."

Quintero added: "Listen, they could not have made the case against Alex without Bosch. Without Bosch, they would have never been able to decipher the notebooks. So, they had to pay Bosch whatever Bosch was asking."

Bosch said MLB simply paid to keep its star witness safe, focused and comfortable. He notes that built into the security cost were flights to and from New York, hotels, transportation and the cost of gas.

"I never got a kickback, unfortunately," he told ESPN. "I wish I did. In retrospect, I would have done it. Everybody made all this money, and I definitely didn't. My security team made a hell of a lot of money. My lawyers made a hell of a lot of money.

"My lawyers were looking out for their pockets. Dude, there was overbilling, too. And I would say, 'Dude, that is bulls---. You are not billing like that.' You got the figures. I don't have to tell you how much money they made.

"They should have at least given me a good gift, don't you think? F--- them, bro. Listen, when a lawyer refers a lawyer, they get greased. They should have greased my ass."

Bosch estimates that MLB spent at least $6 million on costs related to him alone.

"Money was not an issue -- they mentioned it," said Bosch, referring to MLB officials. "They said, 'We don't care what it costs. We are going to get this guy [Alex Rodriguez] no matter what it costs.'"

Bosch's lawyer and good friend, Julio Ayala, concurs.

"Look, essentially my take on the matter was Bud Selig was retiring and he wanted to leave a lasting legacy that he fought to clean up the sport," Ayala said. "He was on his way out and wanted that to be something he would be remembered for. They didn't spare any expenses in accomplishing what they wanted to do.

"In terms of dollar figures, it was a substantial amount of money. And I don't fault them for it. This is a problem they took seriously. And they have the resources to mount these fights."

When the music stopped, Bosch, one of eight people convicted in the federal investigation, said that he hadn't embarrassed baseball and that things worked out for most everyone. The game prevailed against A-Rod. Selig and Manfred got what they wanted: a nice send-off capped by induction into the Hall of Fame for one and baseball's top job for the other. Bosch said he was told there might be a consulting gig for him when things settled down, although nothing ever materialized.

He takes some solace, at least, in knowing he might have played a small part in the making of Manfred, elected commissioner in August 2014.

"I never said, 'Oh, I made Rob Manfred," Bosch said. "That was the talk. That is what was being said in conversations amongst his own colleagues. It's so obvious. Did they sit me down and say, 'Tony, you got to do this because I am going to be the next commissioner for sure if you do this?' No, they never said those words to me, but it was understood through many conversations. And when [Manfred] got elected, he said, 'Listen, I want to thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.'

"So, is that an admission? I don't know."

Mike Fish is a senior writer at ESPN. Reach him at michaeljfish19@gmail.com. On X, formerly known as Twitter, his handle is @MikeFishESPN.