By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
MLB soon dispatched a team of investigators to South Florida. They were led by Dan Mullin, a tough former New York Police Department deputy chief who'd been appointed to head baseball's new Department of Investigations.
Two senior vice presidents — Pat Courtney and Rob Manfred — meanwhile, visited the New Times office. Their request was simple: Share the documents. (New Times eventually declined.)
By February, Fischer had returned to Miami and moved into his mother's Pinecrest home. It was surrounded by fences and tall hedges, so he could spot anyone coming.
Reporters had been driving by for weeks. An MLB investigator one day left a business card that later found its way into an ESPN report: "We know time is $," he had scrawled on the back. "Please call."
Fischer didn't respond. A surreal incident on February 19 convinced him that keeping a low profile was a wise move. He was driving home from the gym when he noticed a beige Honda turn onto his block. Warily, he drove past his house and parked at nearby Pinecrest Gardens. After waiting a few minutes, he pulled out — but the Honda was parked outside the lot.
Fischer sped out onto South Dixie Highway with the Honda in pursuit. Sweating, he called a friend named Pete Carbone. "What the hell do I do?" he yelled.
Carbone convinced Fischer to meet him at a nearby Winn-Dixie. They quickly traded cars. The Honda tailed Carbone in Fischer's car. A few minutes later, Carbone was boxed in between two other cars. He called the cops.
A report filed by Pinecrest police sheds little light on why the men were chasing Fischer. The three other drivers — Lewis Perry, Ernesto Sam, and Julio Moreiras — all worked for Precise Protective Research, a private eye firm based nearby on South Dixie Highway. They told police they were "working an investigation" when Carbone began threatening them. (Carbone claimed one man flashed a gun at him, according to the police report.) No charges were filed, and Carbone declined to talk to New Times.
"They were either working for Major League Baseball or A-Rod or another ballplayer involved," Fischer claims today, though he has no proof.
On February 25, Fischer finally decided to meet with two MLB investigators, both ex-NYPD cops.
They started with the carrots: They'd pay Fischer just to talk. If things worked out, maybe they could even move him to a gated community. And there would be justice for the cheaters.
Fischer replied, "I don't give a shit about you or your ballplayers. This is about self-preservation to me."
So the ex-cops switched tactics: If someone were to sue you, they warned, it could be expensive. MLB could indemnify him from damages. "I'm not worried about court," Fischer countered. "I'm worried about a bullet in my head."
A deal was hatched: If ten days went by and no newspaper or TV station reported Fischer's name, he'd meet them again. The MLB representatives agreed, on the condition that Fischer would send them a few pages of Bosch's files.
When there was no word in the media, they agreed to meet in a Coconut Creek parking lot. Fischer arrived to find the pair in a Chevy Tahoe with tinted windows. They rolled down the window and hailed him into the back seat. He slid in next to one investigator, while the other turned around with a grin and wordlessly handed Fischer an envelope. Inside was $5,000 cash.
"I'm thinking, Holy shit, this is exactly like the movies," Fischer says. "I considered not taking the money, but then I thought, Wait, I didn't do anything wrong here. Everyone else is getting paid — why shouldn't I?"
One investigator made a proposal: They'd give him another $10,000 to come in with all of his documents. Fischer laughed, "My safety is worth $15,000?"
The next meeting came March 11 at a small park wedged next to SW 72nd Avenue just south of the Deering Estate at Cutler.
This time, MLB top cop Dan Mullin himself showed up. He suggested a deal: Fischer would share everything in exchange for a $1,000-per-week salary for a year as a "consultant." He'd be on the hook to answer any questions about the records.
"I told him: 'No way. That's not enough to protect myself.' And he said, 'Porter, this stuff isn't worth a million bucks,' " Fischer says. "But I never said it was. I just wanted to know how I could feel safe cooperating with these guys."
Baseball was done with the carrots. On March 19, MLB attorney Steven Gonzalez texted Fischer. It was three days before baseball would file a lawsuit against Tony Bosch and other Biogenesis associates. Gonzalez, in text messages shared with New Times, warned Fischer about the suit and added, "I hope you take it as a sign of good faith that your name was not included. This does not preclude us from making a deal, but if you ignore a forthcoming subpoena, it will force us to compel the courts to produce the four notebooks from Miami New Times."
Then Gonzalez made an offer: "We can compensate you in the amount of $125,000 for all the records and your signature on an affidavit."