ROSE PROBE (CONT.)
How strong is the case against Pete Rose? Insofar as allegations that he bet on baseball are concerned, the most damaging evidence had been statements made by Paul Janszen, a former friend of Rose's now serving a six-month prison sentence for tax evasion. SI and other publications have reported that Janszen told baseball investigators he placed bets on baseball—and on the Cincinnati Reds, the team Rose manages—on Rose's behalf. But it has been unclear how much corroboration another possible witness against Rose. Ron Peters, could provide. Peters's attorney, Alan Statman, had described his client as Rose's "principal bookmaker" and had told of having "information" that Rose had bet on baseball. But what was the nature of that information?
A source close to baseball's continuing investigation of Rose told SI's Jill Lieber last week that Peters, who has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of tax evasion and cocaine trafficking, has informed the commissioner's office that he had firsthand dealings with Rose regarding baseball betting. The possibility existed that Peters knew of Rose's involvement in baseball betting only through Janszen. Further, two sources told SI that Peters informed the commissioner's office that Rose had also placed baseball bets with Peters through another former friend, Tommy Gioiosa.
Gioiosa, who has been indicted on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, allegedly handled Rose's baseball bets before Janszen began doing so—handled them, in fact, as far back as Rose's playing days, which ended in 1986. "Gioiosa did what Janszen did, only a lot longer," one of the sources said. But the source added, "Janszen bet on baseball a hell of a lot more than Gioiosa." The sources would not say whether Peters had told baseball investigators that Rose had bet on the Reds (which would bring him a lifetime ban from the game as opposed to a one-year suspension if he bet on baseball but not on the Reds), but last month ST quoted a source friendly to both Janszen and Peters as saying that both men had told him that Rose had done so.
Rose has denied betting on baseball, and Gioiosa has said that he placed bets for Rose only at the racetrack. But Peters is considered a credible witness by baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti, who, it was revealed last week, on April 18 sent a letter lauding Peters to U.S. District Judge Carl B. Rubin, who had been scheduled to sentence Peters. In the letter Giamatti said that Peters has provided baseball with "critical sworn testimony about Mr. Rose and his associates. In addition, Mr. Peters has provided probative documentary evidence to support his testimony and the testimony of others. Based upon other information in our possession, I am satisfied Mr. Peters has been candid, forthright and truthful with my special counsel [chief baseball investigator John Dowd]."
Upon receiving the letter, which Giamatti had asked be kept confidential, Rubin called a conference in his chambers with Statman and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brichler. According to a transcript of the meeting obtained by SI and some other publications, Brichler disclosed that Rose was under federal investigation for possible tax evasion; previously there had been only press reports that Rose was under federal investigation. Brichler also said that Peters, who is cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation of Rose's taxes, "has indicated to us that he took bets over a period of two years from Mr. Rose that could very well amount to in excess of a million dollars."
Giamatti's letter caused problems for both himself and Rubin. In the conference the judge said that he was "offended" by the letter, which he apparently saw as an unseemly attempt to influence his sentencing of Peters. "I resent the baseball commissioner entering into what I think is—there is evidence here, in my opinion, of a vendetta against Pete Rose," said Rubin.
Rose's attorney, Reuven Katz, said that Giamatti "has to consider if he has compromised himself," and other lawyers agreed. "Giamatti has absolutely tainted himself." said Los Angeles trial lawyer Paul Caruso, who for several decades has represented sports figures in legal and disciplinary matters. "He has already indicated that he has great trust in one of Rose's great accusers." Said Alan Rothenberg, an attorney who's also president of the Los Angeles Clippers, "Letters are written all the time for the likes of Ron Peters. But when it comes in the middle of [Giamatti's] own investigation, it's ill-advised."
For his part, Rubin has been quoted as saying that he has been a friend of Katz's "for 60 years." Before suggesting that Giamatti may be waging a vendetta against Rose, he showed Katz a copy of the commissioner's letter. Later, sounding more like a Reds fan than an impartial jurist, he told The New York Times that baseball should have completed its investigation of Rose before the baseball season began. "I don't think that such a prolonged investigation can help either the manager or the team," said Rubin. He also accused the press of having "tried, convicted and executed" Rose. Realizing that he had created at least an appearance of impropriety by entangling himself in the Rose case, Rubin recused himself last Thursday from the sentencing of Peters.
What Peters is said to have told baseball investigators compounds Rose's predicament. Last week The Cincinnati Post quoted sources as saying that Rose was prepared to tell baseball investigators that Janszen is a blackmailer who had threatened to concoct allegations against him if Rose didn't lend him $40,000. Last month SI quoted a source close to Rose and Janszen who said that Janzsen had blackmailed Rose. However, this source said that Janszen claimed Rose owed him money for a gambling debt.