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Chasing A-Rod

Sitrick’s firm proposed reaching out to business magazines for a possible cover, an idea A-Rod liked.

And then the story broke, and his priorities abruptly shifted. Sitrick advised him to take the high road, issuing a few lawyerly statements. But Rodriguez was seething.

In South Florida, MLB was frustrated. Investigators were still pounding on doors, but the holy grail of the notebooks was eluding them. Then a guy calling himself “Bobby from Boca” phoned MLB headquarters. He had a flash-drive copy of the notebooks, too.

Bobby’s real name is Gary Jones. He turned out to be the most important middleman in the whole affair—a South Florida Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca. He met me at a Starbucks in Deerfield, outside of Boca Raton. He’s a big man, six-two, 285, with thick hands and a head the size of a car battery. He was dressed in a faded blue T-shirt and basketball shorts. The outfit and presentation are calculated, he told me in a gravelly voice.

“You don’t mind playing dumb,” I said.

“Complete idiot,” he said. Complete idiot. Being underestimated gives him an advantage, he thinks.

In fact, Jones is as crafty as they come. He’s a seasoned ex-con with an unerring instinct for maximizing an opportunity. He was proud of his bank-robbing feats, and mashed a finger into the table as he recounted them: “I got $262,000 from one bank and then, 24 hours later, $190,000 from another.” He backed his truck up to the wall. “I ripped out the night-deposit ­boxes. When it came off, the bags [of money] went everywhere.”

Jones retired from crime, he said, after spending three years in federal prison, and recently made a living in the tanning industry, which is how he met Porter Fischer, who’d been commiserating with him throughout the drama.

Jones almost felt sorry for Fischer. “He was stupid,” said Jones. “He didn’t know how to make money. That was ridiculous going to New Times.

Jones said he “obtained” flash drives from Fischer, though Fischer doesn’t recall giving him one.

Jones had followed Fischer’s disastrous negotiations with MLB—and once they crashed, he leaped into the breach. He began by making a market. Bobby from Boca cold-called A-Rod’s camp, which wasn’t interested, nor was the “handler” of Ryan Braun, another player linked to Biogenesis. He even called the Baseball Hall of Fame, figuring he could sell the documents as memorabilia.

Then he reached MLB.

“A few hundred thousand isn’t going to hurt you,” Jones said. Mullin flew down from New York. They finally agreed on a price of $125,000, which Jones knew was what Fischer was offered. Jones wanted cash.

In March, Jones met Mullin at the Cosmos Diner on East Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach. Jones and Mullin sat at a booth, Jones in his usual shorts. Mullin pushed a yellowish envelope across the table. Inside were $100 bills in bands of $1,000, which, in turn, were in bands of $10,000.

An MLB spokesman insisted its investigators didn’t know the documents were stolen. If that’s true, they were the only ones in South Florida who didn’t.

Jones, who has a flawless instinct for such things, knew that sliding cash across a table didn’t exactly look like the way an upstanding institution should do business. It was, in his mind, one more opportunity to be monetized. From a booth across the room, Jones had a buddy film the meeting on an iPhone, which he later sold to Rodriguez for $200,000, who planned to use it to focus attention on MLB’s tactics. (Rodriguez insisted that Jones fill out an IRS W-9 form.)

At Starbucks, I was listening to Jones’s tale of outmaneuvering just about everyone, missing my flight back to New York.

“I know the whole story,” Jones told me, but, of course, he’s not giving it away. “You should buy it from me,” he said.

“I can’t do that,” I told him.

He wasn’t upset. “I did pretty good already,” he said, and then drove off in his powder-blue vintage Mercedes.

The notebooks are strange documents. They’re written in blocky capital letters, a running stream of consciousness over four years, 2009 through 2012. In part, they’re a dream journal by a man with grandiose dreams. Bosch sketches out business plans one after another. He will go national, then global; he will open a chain of retail outlets that will stock his line of private-label products. He wants not only fortune—“a yacht” and “a plane”—but prestige. He imagines selling off an interest in the business to fund a stem-cell-research-and-therapy institute. He searches for the right title for himself. He lists “founder,” “chairman,” “CEO,” though in the end he goes with the more distinguished “physician scientist.” Of course, he is neither.