MIAMI — The U.S. government says New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez gave his cousin nearly $1 million last year to keep secret Rodriguez’s use of performance enhancing drugs.
In court documents filed last week in Miami, federal prosecutors said Rodriguez made four wire payments totaling $900,000 between June 2013 and September 2013 to settle a threatened lawsuit by Yuri Sucart, who had worked as Rodriguez’s personal assistant.
The total value of that settlement could be nearly $2 million, when factoring in other elements of the deal such as a home, a car and insurance.
Sucart, in a letter from his lawyer, threatened to expose Rodriquez’s PED use if he wasn’t given $5 million and a home.
“Unfortunately for you, litigation with you over his employment agreement will reveal all of the duties you instructed Yuri to perform, so he can prove in court what he earned, what you owe him for services rendered and what you promised,” Sucart attorney Jeffrey Sonn wrote in a proposed settlement letter to Rodriguez dated Dec. 18, 2012.
A spokesman for Rodriguez did not immediately return a request for comment.
The payments from Rodriguez to Sucart were revealed after the government said Sucart did not fully disclose his personal financial situation during the process that would determine if he should pay some portion of the costs related to having a federal public defender. The government said Rodriguez also paid Sucart about $500,000 in salary from 2008 through 2013.
Sucart, according to the documents, told the court he does not own a house or a car, but the government alleges that he does “pursuant to the settlement with Rodriguez.”
Sucart, in that proposed settlement that stemmed from what he said was a wrongful termination by Rodriguez, asked for $5 million and a life estate for he and his wife.
In return, Sucart offered continued silence and even a willingness to remain Rodriguez’s personal assistant if so desired.
As part of the settlement, court records show Rodriguez is also spending up to $300,000 to provide medical insurance for Sucart and his family for five years.
He also provided Sucart with a 2009 Chevrolet Suburban and the right to stay in a home he owns for five years — with the promise that the house, which lists Alexander E. Rodriguez as its owner, would be deeded to Sucart if the terms of the deal including “preservation of confidential information” were all satisfied.
The Daily News of New York first reported the contents of the new suit and related filings.
Sucart was charged in August with conspiring to distribute testosterone and human growth hormone. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial in February.
The charges are related to work prosecutors said Sucart did with Biogenesis of America. That now-closed anti-aging clinic’s owner, Anthony Bosch, has already pleaded guilty and is cooperating with investigators.
Sucart is among a group accused of acting as recruiters who set up meetings between athletes and Bosch, authorities said. Professional athletes paid up to $12,000 a month for the drugs provided by Biogenesis, while high schoolers paid up to $600 a month. All the clients were promised that the substances would not be found through drug testing, prosecutors said.
Bosch, who met Rodriguez through Sucart in July 2010, provided evidence that weighed heavily in the decision to suspend the three-time AL MVP for the entire 2014 season.
Rodriguez admitted six years ago he used performance-enhancing substances while with Texas from 2001-03, and has denied usage since.
Rodriguez played in just 44 games in the 2013 season, hitting seven home runs to increase his career total to 654, fifth-most in baseball history.
He is still owed $61 million on the final three years of his contract with the Yankees and will turn 40 next July. He could receive an additional $6 million each for five milestones that the team designates as historic achievements, the next of those believed to be tying Willie Mays’ 660 home runs for No. 4 on the all-time list.
(TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer)