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Informant led feds to Bigbie, Radomski

2/4/2009 - MLB

A FBI informant wore a wire while speaking with a Baltimore Orioles outfielder, helping fuel the federal government's steroid investigation that eventually led to the Mitchell report, according to federal court documents posted on The Smoking Gun.

The informant, Andrew Michael Bogdan, was a landlord who went to work for the FBI after being caught up in a Baltimore-based real estate scam, The Smoking Gun reported Wednesday on its Web site. According to the report, Bogdan's entry into Major League Baseball came via Orioles outfielder Larry Bigbie, whom he met at an area restaurant co-owned by Bogdan's sister.

In 2005, the Web site reports, Bogdan told his FBI handlers that Bigbie admitted receiving performance-enhancing drugs from a source in New York. The FBI relayed the information to IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, who had led the BALCO investigation two years earlier in Northern California, The Smoking Gun reported, without citing specifics. Novitzky traveled to Baltimore and sat next to Bogdan when he called the outfielder to place his own steroid order. A month later, the Orioles player gave Bogdan the name of his source, Kirk Radomski.

Wiliam Bastone, The Smoking Gun's editor, told ESPN that he spent more than four hours interviewing Bogdan at his home in Baltimore in late January 2009 and matched his statements against public documents, including search warrant applications and the contents of Radomski's recently released book, "Bases Loaded." Bogdan's work as an FBI informant was openly referenced by prosecutors during his 2006 federal court sentencing for conspiracy charges related to inflating real estate appraisals in a HUD scam. His sentence was reduced, in part, because prosecutors said he was involved in a "case of national importance."

The disclosure indicates how a new front of the investigation was being opened just as an old one was being closed. On July 15, 2005, the founder of BALCO, Victor Conte, pleaded guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering charges in connection with his sale of designer steroids. But just a week later, Bogdan was in Colorodo, visiting Bigbie, who had been traded to the Rockies. There, according to The Smoking Gun, Bigbie talked about Radomski's sales of human growth hormone and reportedly showed Bogdan his own vials containing the drug. Bogdan took a vial from the trash can and gave it to Novitzky.

That evidence subsequently convinced Radomski to cooperate with federal investigators. He taped calls and sent out monitored shipments of steroids, and eventually led Novitzky to Brian McNamee, the personal trainer who accused Roger Clemens of using HGH. Clemens denied the claims under oath, and is the subject of a grand jury inquiry.

"I don't want to talk about him," Radomski said, when contacted by ESPN.com on Wednesday about Bogdan. "He is insignificant. I'll never speak his name."

In an interview with The Smoking Gun, Bogdan made a distinction between the supplier and the outfielder. He called Radomski a "big fish" who got what he deserved but was more charitable to Bigbie, saying he was a "good boy." He added, "Nothing was ever deliberately, maliciously or willfully done to hurt Larry."

Bigbie, who spent the 2007 season in the minors, played last year in Japan. He could not be reached for comment.

While the report notes that Bogdan "cultivated friendships" with other Orioles players and passed information about them to federal agents, it does not name anyone other than Bigbie. Among the players on the Orioles in 2005 were Rafael Palmiero and Miguel Tejada. On March 15, 2005, while Bogdan was actively cooperating with the feds and hanging around Orioles haunts, Palmiero testified before Congress that he had never used steroids. He subsequently tested positive for the steroid stanozolol and was suspended for 10 games. Tejada was accused of receiving steroids in the Mitchell report.

In June 2006, Bogdan was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $277,650 in restitution for conspiracy charges related to the property scam that got him in trouble in the first place. According to The Smoking Gun, Bogdan is divorced and living alone in Baltimore, where he was laid off last year from a job restocking vending machines.

Information from ESPN The Magazine's Shaun Assael and ESPN.com's Mike Fish is included in this report.