MIAMI (AP) – A cousin of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez who was the star's longtime personal assistant was sentenced Thursday to seven months in prison after pleading guilty to federal drug charges stemming from baseball's South Florida steroids scandal.
U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga also sentenced Yuri Sucart to serve six months of house arrest after his release from prison and imposed a $5,000 fine. He could later be deported to his native Dominican Republic.
Sucart, 53, is the last of eight people to plead guilty for roles in providing steroids to Rodriguez and other athletes through the Biogenesis of America clinic owned by Anthony Bosch. Bosch, who falsely posed as licensed physician "Dr. T," got the longest prison term at four years.
The investigation triggered suspensions by Major League Baseball of 14 players, including Rodriguez for all of last season. A-Rod is back with the Yankees this year primarily as designated hitter and recently passed Willie Mays for fourth place on baseball's all-time home run list.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharad Motiani said in addition to working for Rodriguez, Sucart recruited other players into the Biogenesis steroid orbit and got paid handsomely on the side. Sucart also provided steroids to teenage ballplayers, the prosecutor said.
"Mr. Sucart is one of the most important individuals in this case," Motiani said. "It wasn't only Alex Rodriguez. He provided it to other professional athletes, there's no dispute about that."
Sucart was permanently banned by Major League Baseball from any of its facilities — he can't even attend a Miami Marlins game — after Rodriguez in 2009 admitted using steroids supplied by his cousin earlier in his career with the Texas Rangers.
Later, Rodriguez reduced Sucart's salary and he was finally cut off completely by the star player in late 2012, according to Sucart's lawyer Edward O'Donnell IV.
That financial downfall led Sucart deeper into cahoots with Bosch and Biogenesis, O'Donnell said.
"He was left with nothing. He found himself in a very desperate financial situation," the lawyer added. "It was a very humiliating time in Mr. Sucart's life."
Motiani, however, said Sucart began his side steroids business long before his falling out with A-Rod.
"Mr. Sucart was doing this from the beginning," the prosecutor said.
In brief remarks to the judge in Spanish, Sucart apologized for his actions but said he did it "out of ignorance and necessity." He appeared in court in using a walker and O'Donnell said he suffers from a long list of ailments that has caused him to be hospitalized 14 times since his August arrest.
Sucart initially demanded money from Rodriguez in return for his silence and the three-time American League MVP eventually offered Sucart $600,000 and his three-bedroom home, according to court records.
Sucart, however, wanted $5 million and the house. Prosecutors say the two eventually settled in 2013 for about $900,000, and O'Donnell said Sucart did not cooperate in the investigation.
Altonaga last year ordered Sucart to pay for part of his court-provided legal representation and noted Thursday that he still owes more than $3,000, which O'Donnell said Sucart would pay.
"It's a very serious issue," the judge said.