Alex Rodriguez's attorney Joe Tacopina wasn't at the center of Sunday's "60 Minutes" piece like Biogenesis boss Tony Bosch and MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred were. But one thing Tacopina said in the small amount of air time he did get: A-Rod "absolutely" did not bribe anyone.
Presented in the "60 Minutes" story was an unsolicited wire transfer from "Arod Corporation" to Bosch's criminal attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala, in the amount of $49,901.51. Manfred told "60 Minutes" that he and MLB considered this a bribe.
But Steve Fishman of New York Magazine found this odd. Fishman, you'll remember, wrote a big piece on A-Rod recently and then published those strange e-mails between A-Rod and New York Yankees president Randy Levine.
Fishman wondered, who pays $49.901.51 as hush money. It's too specific an amount. Why not $50,000, nice and round? Fishman did some digging and discovered:
In fact, documents obtained by New York suggests that the wire transfer was a legal payment made in error. Rodriguez's attorney Roy Black sent Rodriguez a bill for that same amount on April 2, 2013 – six days before the payment to Ribero-Ayala. According to e-mails examined by New York, Rodriguez’s business staff confused the wiring information and accidentally sent the payment to Ribero-Ayala on April 8.
Rodriguez’s employees had Ribero-Ayala’s name in their payment system because Rodriguez had previously paid her $25,000 to help cover Bosch’s mounting legal fees, when the two were still telling the same story — and Bosch had thanked him for that.
On April 9, 2013, Rodriguez realized that the second payment was in error, according to the e-mail chain, and Ribero-Ayala returned the money, which was then transferred to Black’s law firm’s account.
You can see the full invoice for $49.901.51 at New York magazine's site, but here's a photo showing that the numbers match. The top image is from "60 Minutes." The bottom is from the magazine's investigation.
Does this mean A-Rod didn't use PEDs and his suspension is unjust? No. But it does raise some doubts. Perhaps Bosch's side of the story isn't 100 percent accurate. Perhaps MLB was so eager to nail A-Rod that some of Bosch's claims didn't get vetted as thoroughly as some would hope. Perhaps A-Rod just needs a new accounts payable department.
This unearthing — if you believe New York mag's connecting of the dots — likely won't change anything about the A-Rod saga, but it does give A-Rod defenders a small victory.
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