Yuri Sucart Faces Prison After Years Doing A-Rod's Dirty Work

It's hard to imagine a character less suited to Alex ­Rodriguez's luxury lifestyle of private jets and South of Fifth condos than the shackled man federal agents led into the DEA's Weston headquarters the morning of August 5.

Yuri Sucart was clad in a baggy white T-shirt, ill-fitting black pants, socks, and sandals. He looked more like a paunchy, bald soccer dad than a guy who'd spent decades in A-Rod's tight inner circle. Yet the truth is, no one was closer to the suspended Yankees superstar through his entire baseball career than his older primo.

Along with Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch, Sucart was arrested last week. Bosch has already admitted to a host of sins, from supplying scores of Major League Baseball players with performance-enhancing drugs to doping up at least 18 high school athletes. Less attention has been paid to Sucart's arrest on six counts of illegally distributing testosterone.

Charges against the pair and five others mark the emphatic coda to a saga that started with a New Times investigation in January 2013 and peaked last summer with the suspension of 15 professional ballplayers tied to Bosch, including a season-long ban for A-Rod.

But Sucart's own remarkable tale shouldn't be overlooked. It's told for the first time in a book I recently wrote with former Miami New Times senior writer Gus Garcia-Roberts, Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era.

Sucart's life began spiraling out of control after A-Rod betrayed him in a 2009 doping scandal. In the five years since, he's been mired in a morass of mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcies, failing health, and terrible decisions — including, according to Bosch's records, at least, delivering his own ball-playing teenaged son to Biogenesis. Though Bosch has bonded out, Sucart still sits in federal custody. He's apparently ill, facing deportation to his native Dominican Republic, and is so broke that his family has started an online campaign to fund his legal defense.

"My family has no assets, home, or anywhere to run to, financially speaking, to try and bail out my dad," his daughter, Ashley Sucart, writes in an online plea. "My family and I have been through a lot. The only thing we want is to be at peace."

Sucart was born in the D.R. in 1962, 13 years before Rodriguez. The son of a brother of Lourdes, A-Rod's mom, Yuri bounced among extended family on the island and in New York after a car wreck in the Dominican killed his mother. He spent significant time in the cramped Washington Heights apartment where A-Rod grew up. "He's been with me since I was born," Rodriguez told the Associated Press.

When a young Rodriguez moved to Miami with his mom and developed into one of the top high school prospects in history, his older cousin followed a more prosaic path, bouncing between a job with a water utility in Santo Domingo and a gig as a blacksmith in South Florida. By the time A-Rod was astonishing scouts with monster home runs as a teenaged shortstop for Westminster Christian School, Sucart had moved back to New York with his wife and was eking out a living as an unlicensed gypsy cabdriver.

The cousins stayed in touch, though, and Sucart knew there was a standing offer: When A-Rod's inevitable big-league contract came after his senior year, he could plan on being his full-time gofer.

But on May 13, 1993 — two days after A-Rod's high school career ended with a playoff loss — a previously unreported event upended Sucart's life and set the stage for decades of dependence on his famous relative.

It started in the lobby of a Washington Heights building, where an undercover cop paid $35 for two balls of tin foil filled with crack. As soon as the deal went down, uniformed officers raced around the corner. A few minutes later, officers arrested a man matching the description of one of the crack dealers, the operation's so-called "Boss Man." His real name: Yuri Sucart.

Sucart's legal drama dragged on for almost three years. He swore that police had the wrong guy. And the other drug dealer, 18-year-old Lincoln Daniel Persaud, recanted on the stand after first telling cops Sucart was his accomplice. The jury, though, deadlocked thanks to one holdout who thought Sucart was guilty, and he was sent back behind bars.

In March 1996, Sucart was still in Rikers Island as Rodriguez prepared for his first full Major League season as the Seattle Mariners' starting shortstop, his offer of employment still standing. Sucart soon agreed to plead guilty to felony criminal sale of a controlled substance. He got off with time served.

But it was a stiff price to pay. Sucart was now a felon. Because he had never become a U.S. citizen, his immigration status was iffy. Worst of all, he may well have been innocent. For Blood Sport, we tracked down Persaud in Washington Heights. Now nearing 40, the onetime crack-dealing teen said Sucart was guilty of only one thing: looking like the real "Boss Man."

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Tim Elfrink is an award-winning investigative reporter, the managing editor of the Miami New Times and the co-author of "Blood Sport: Alex Rodriguez and the Quest to End Baseball's Steroid Era." Since 2008, he's written in-depth pieces on police corruption, fatal shootings and social justice issues across South Florida. He's won the George Polk Award and has been a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink