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The First Domino
DAVID EPSTEIN
August 30, 2010
How did Roger Clemens end up in hot water? It all started with a real estate scam in Maryland
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August 30, 2010

The First Domino

How did Roger Clemens end up in hot water? It all started with a real estate scam in Maryland

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Are you one of Radomski's people?" the man screamed at me. Minutes earlier I had been knocking on his door. That was just before he chased me away and followed me in his car and then ran me off the road. Now he was at the window of my rental, the front tires of which were up on the sidewalk. "Are you here for Radomski?"

I was not one of Radomski's "people," and I was not there to harm the man, as he apparently feared. I was there, in a development of town houses adjacent to I-95 in Baltimore, to ask about his relationship with Kirk Radomski, the former Mets clubhouse attendant and steroid dealer and the primary source for the revelations of baseball's Mitchell Report.

"The Baltimore County police are on their way," the man yelled, before telling me to get out of my car and show some ID. This was February 2008, just one week after Roger Clemens went before Congress to refute the Mitchell Report's detailing of his alleged use of steroids and human growth hormone. The frantic man was Andrew Michael (Mike) Bogdan, who one year later would be identified by The Smoking Gun as the FBI informant who helped the feds snare Radomski, a contention supported by court documents and confirmed to SI by sources familiar with the case. By taping phone calls in which he ordered steroids from Radomski and having them shipped to the FBI, Bogdan started a cascade of events that resulted in Clemens's indictment last week on six felony counts: Facing prison, Radomski led the FBI to trainer Brian McNamee; McNamee told Mitchell Report investigators that he injected Clemens with steroids; Clemens emphatically denied the claims before Congress; Congress asked the Department of Justice to investigate Clemens's sworn statements under oath; and Clemens was indicted.

And it might never have happened were it not for a failed real estate scam.

In 2001 Bogdan, now 45, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements and commit wire fraud as part of a Baltimore real estate flipping scheme. In an effort to lessen the penalties, Bogdan became an FBI informant. When I first spoke with him in 2008 (after the short car chase he accepted that I was an SI reporter and allowed me to come back to his home with him), Bogdan acknowledged his role as an FBI informant, but said that his contributions to law enforcement were all related to real estate investigations and had nothing to do with steroids. He was not, he said, and maintains today, the informant identified in a 2005 affidavit for a search warrant on Radomski's home as a source who "pled guilty to felony real estate fraud charges." All his FBI work, he said, was before former Orioles outfielder Larry Bigbie—who later admitted to Mitchell Report investigators that he bought steroids from Radomski—became his entrée into an elite circle of big leaguers.

Back at his home, Bogdan showed me a white-carpeted room with evidence of his access to major league clubhouses back in the '04 season. There's a signed Jason Grimsley jersey: TO MY LITTLE BUDDY MIKE, BEST WISHES. JASON. A photograph with a wide-eyed Jason Giambi, then of the Yankees, out at a nightspot in Baltimore. And then there's the picture of Bogdan in a tux with Bigbie at a mutual friend's wedding. "We were invited as a couple," Bogdan told me, "because we were always together."

Bogdan said he got to know Bigbie at Rick's Café Americain, a popular players' hangout in Baltimore, where Bogdan's sister was a co-manager. The two met in 2003 on a night when Bigbie was guest bartending. Bogdan claimed that he had no idea who Bigbie was and had little interest in hanging out with athletes. But Bigbie was new in town, single and looking for company, so the two exchanged numbers and became fast friends. "I never missed one home game in '04," Bogdan told me. He alluded to nights of hard drinking and partying with players and visits to strip clubs. One former Oriole told SI that Bogdan would show up at the ballpark after night games, in the area where players meet their wives, with strippers in tow. The ex-Oriole said that he is also aware that Bogdan helped the FBI investigate Radomski.

Bogdan told me that he met Radomski just once, at Shea Stadium in '05 during a Mets-Rockies game in the final series of the season. Bigbie had been traded to the Rockies, and Bogdan was coming to see his friend. Bogdan claimed he didn't know his way around New York City and that Bigbie sent Radomski to pick him up and take him to the stadium. The two then sat together at the game. Bogdan said that they talked about dietary supplements but never steroids. "We were totally different," he recalled. "He's talking about nutrition, and all I want is a steak and a cold beer. But a very nice guy."

In his book, Bases Loaded, Radomski writes about going to a Mets game in the last series of the '05 season with an unnamed friend of a player he'd been supplying. Radomski writes, "I just had a feeling this guy was setting me up." Still, Radomski admits he subsequently filled a drug order for the man. "I figured out later that the package I sent was probably the first evidence the government had against me," he writes.

Indeed, the FBI had an informant, ID'd to SI by sources as Bogdan, wear a wire to a meeting with Radomski that day. Bogdan, who was still awaiting sentencing on the real estate fraud charges, had contacted the FBI with information about Radomski earlier in '05 and throughout the year had placed several orders for steroids and recorded phone conversations with Radomski. In June 2006 Bogdan finally received his sentence: probation and a fine. (Nearly a year later Radomski took at plea of his own, getting five years' probation.)

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