Prosecutors claim that Alex Rodrigues paid nearly $1 million in “hush money” to his cousin in order to maintain his silence. The alleged payments were believed to be in response to a letter received by Rodrigues from the attorney for his cousin, Jeffrey Sonn. The letter contained threats of a lawsuit and a demand of $5 million and a life estate. According to documents filed in the federal court in Miami, it was Rodrigues’s cousin, Yuri Sucart, who arranged the sessions with Rodrigues and Tony Bosch, the founder of the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, which is the focus of the biggest scandal to plague Major League Baseball. The scandal and subsequent investigations resulted in the suspension of 14 players, including Rodrigues, who was suspended for 162 games.
Sucart was arrested and charged with conspiracy and the illegal distribution of steroids in August. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to be tried in Feburary. Prosecutors say that the letter from Sonn includes a suggestion that Sucart’s silence would be maintained in exchange for the payments. In an interview, Sonn said that it was not a threat, but more about the breach of an agreement in which his client was promised lifetime employment.
The reports that Rodrigues paid nearly $1 million to his cousin were offered as evidence that Sucart deceived the courts in a legal document which claimed that he was unable to afford a lawyer. According to the letter, dated in 2012, Sucart acted as Rodrigues’s underling and handled sensitive matters. Rodrigues had also earlier admitted at a news conference that his cousin has also administered to him a performance-enhancing drug from the Dominican Republic.
The court documents, including the letter, show that Sucart was paid an annual salary between $50,000 to more than $110,000 between 2003 and 2012. However, payments were stopped in Nov 2012, leaving Sucart and his family in hardship. It also includes a proposal to provide for past services and loyalty. It was not until six months later that a confidential settlement between Rodrigues and Sucart was reached, according to the evidence presented. Also presented were four receipts from Rodriguez, totaling $900,000.
The evidence provided by Bosch was largely responsible for the 2014 suspension of the three-time winner of the MVP award for the American League. Rodrigues has also admitted to the use of PEDs between the years of 2001 to 2003, when he was a member of the Texas Rangers, but denied any usage since that period. His suspension officially ended at the close of the season, and he is still owed $61 million by the New York Yankees for the final three years of his contract. He is eligible to return to the game in 2015, but there have also been reports of a possible retirement.
It is not known what effect the reports of paying money to his cousin in exchange for silence about the use of PEDs will have on his decision, as much also depends upon the decision of the courts. Observers continue to speculate as to the outcome for the game’s fifth-ranked leader in home runs.
By Dale Davidson