Police in Boca Raton, Fla., are probing Major League Baseball's acquisition of allegedly stolen files used in its Biogenesis investigation against Alex Rodriguez and other players, a spokesman for the department said.
The department is "looking into the allegations that Major League Baseball purchased them because the [files] originally would have been stolen in our burglary," public information officer Sandra Boonenberg said. MLB, which issued a statement saying "it fully supports law enforcement investigating all the details surrounding this situation," is not being accused of any wrongdoing.
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The files, believed to be used as evidence by MLB in Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game suspension, were included in items taken last March 24 from a vehicle registered to Porter Fischer, a former Biogenesis employee turned whistle-blower against Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch.
Police said Fischer told them he was holding the files as "collateral" because he was owed $4,000 by Bosch. MLB has said Bosch supplied performance-enhancing drugs to the Yankees third baseman and other players. A spokesman for Bosch Thursday said Fischer "stole" the files from the clinic. Fischer's attorney H. Scott Fingerhut refused comment.
MLB reportedly acknowledged later buying the documents from Gary Jones, identified as another former Biogenesis employee, for a reported $125,000 in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., diner April 16. Jones' car also was broken into the same night as Fischer's as the two were in a tanning salon, police said. Jones did not file a police report.
"The crime originally occurred here," Booneberg said, so the sale of the files to MLB "would just be an extension of the crime."
Jones denied any involvement in the theft, police said.
Results from DNA taken from the scene of the theft are being processed and are expected shortly, Boonenberg said.
It is uncertain how the evidence presented from the potentially stolen files could affect the Rodriguez hearing before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who has refused comment on any aspect of the appeal, which is scheduled to resume Nov. 18.
Rodriguez's legal team, which repeatedly has said the files obtained by MLB were stolen, could move to have material excluded as evidence.
Former MLB arbitrator George Nicolau said, "I would want to wait and see what the arguments are before I rule on that. I would note in the record what has been related to me but wait and see what arguments are made about it. There may be some precedence on this or other things, I don't know."
Meanwhile, lawyers for Rodriguez and MLB met in Manhattan federal court over Rodriguez's suit claiming MLB was on a "witch hunt" to chase him from the game. Rodriguez's attorneys want the case heard in state court, while MLB believes it should be thrown out.
U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield instructed both sides to file their respective motions by Friday and said she may rule at the next hearing, scheduled for Jan. 23.