ROSE PROBE (CONT.)
As the Pete Rose watch entered its fourth week, attention focused increasingly on his dealings with his former friend and chief accuser, Paul Janszen. Investigators from the office of baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti were trying to answer a crucial question: Did Janszen bet on baseball strictly on his own or did he also do so—as he has claimed—on Rose's behalf?
To be sure, there were other deepening shadows over Rose last week, including newspaper reports that he's the target of an Internal Revenue Service investigation involving income derived from memorabilia sales and gambling. Two more of Rose's former associates ran afoul of the law. Ron Peters, the Franklin, Ohio, restaurateur whose lawyer described him to SI as Rose's "principal bookmaker," agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of tax evasion and cocaine trafficking, and Tommy Gioiosa, a bodybuilder who once lived with Rose, was indicted on charges of tax evasion and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Even if Rose is found to have had no involvement in baseball betting, his dubious associations, indications that he wagered heavily on sports other than baseball through illegal bookmakers and the possibility that he evaded income taxes could prod Giamatti into taking disciplinary action against him.
But the commissioner's mandate is clearest on the issue of baseball wagering. If Rose bet on baseball, Giamatti would suspend him for a year. If he bet on games involving the Cincinnati Reds, the team he manages, the suspension would be for life. Janszen, a bodybuilder who is serving a six-month prison sentence for tax evasion, offers damning testimony in this area. According to a federal court affidavit obtained last week by SI and other publications, a source identified only as S-1, but known through other federal documents to be Janszen, told government investigators that in 1987 he placed bets totaling $8,000 to $16,000 a day on games for a person identified as G-1. Sources have told SI and other publications that G-1 is Rose.
The affidavit, filed by IRS agents last August in connection with their investigation of Peters, doesn't say whether the games bet on were baseball games, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that they were. A source close to the investigation told SI that the bets mentioned in the affidavit indeed included baseball wagers. The Plain Dealer later reported that Janszen told baseball investigators that Rose bet on Reds games. An associate of Janszen's told SI that Janszen made the same claim to him.
Has Janszen been telling the truth? Rose denies betting on baseball—or indeed engaging in any illicit gambling—and it would be hard to accept the word of a felon over that of one of baseball's greatest heroes, even one as tainted as Rose. On the other hand, a federal investigator involved in the case told SI's Martin F. Dardis that Janszen's credibility "in my opinion is a 10 on a scale of one to 10."
Peters's lawyer, Alan Statman, has intimated that his client can corroborate Janszen's claim that Rose bet on baseball. A source friendly to Peters and Janszen told SI's Jill Lieber that both men told him they had tape recordings indicating that Rose bet on baseball—and on the Reds. The aforementioned federal affidavit states that a government informant referred to as S-3—and identified by SI sources as Peters's former wife, Lori—gave the government gambling tally sheets and a tape of Peters accepting bets from unidentified individuals. But it isn't known whether baseball has been provided with tapes or other materials incriminating Rose in baseball betting.
Although Janszen has given the impression that he was betting on baseball for Rose—a weightlifter at Gold's Gym in suburban Cincinnati told SI he heard Janszen using a phone at the gym to place baseball bets the weight-lifter understood were being made on Rose's behalf—baseball investigators have to consider the possibility that Janszen is merely dropping Rose's name, either to impress people or because he has a grudge against Rose. A source close to Rose and Janszen told SI that Janszen claimed Rose owed him money for a gambling debt. The source accused Janszen of blackmailing Rose.
Rose has offered differing versions of his relationship with Janszen. In interviews with SI he has variously said that he didn't associate with Janszen "other than at Gold's Gym," that Janszen "makes sure lines are straight at [baseball] card shows for me," and that the two were close enough that "he lived with me a couple of springs ago for six weeks in Tampa." The last statement refers to a period in 1987 when Janszen and his fiancèe, Danita Marcum, were Pete and Carol Rose's houseguests at spring training. During the '87 season Janszen sometimes accompanied the Reds on the road and stayed at the team hotel, and he and Marcum were familiar figures at Riverfront Stadium, where he hung out in the clubhouse. At games, Janszen and Marcum sat behind home plate with Carol and the Roses' son Tyler.
Janszen also spent a lot of time at the Roses' house in Cincinnati, according to friends of Rose's. Janszen would join Rose in the living room to watch sports events on TV and was constantly on the phone getting updates on scores. "Pete always sat on the left side of the couch," one of the friends says. "Paul sat across from him. Always."
Janszen's closeness to Rose in 1987 is troubling. Even if—to give Rose every benefit of the doubt—Janszen's baseball wagering during this time was strictly for himself, it was taking place right under Rose's nose. In view of baseball's disapproval of fraternizing with gamblers, especially those who bet on baseball, why did Rose maintain the friendship?
Which leads to questions about Rose's associations generally. "I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I heard about the investigation," Johnny Bench, a former Cincinnati teammate of Rose's and now a Reds broadcaster, told The New York Times two weeks ago. "I remember some of the people he had in his office over the last few years. I'd want to stop by and talk baseball, but I decided that it wasn't for their ears."
Besides Janszen, Peters and Gioiosa, two of Rose's other associates, Michael Fry and Donald Stenger, former co-owners of Gold's, have both pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax evasion and cocaine trafficking. Fry is serving an eight-year sentence at a federal prison camp in Terre Haute, Ind., and Stenger was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison. Rose says he seldom socialized with Fry and Stenger away from Gold's, where he regularly worked out, but Fry frequented the Reds' clubhouse and attended horse races with Rose. Stenger says he bought a BMW from Rose, who helped promote Gold's for the two owners.
Rose has taken particular pains to distance himself from Gioiosa, who lived with Rose in the late 1970s and early '80s. As an infielder on the University of Cincinnati baseball team, Gioiosa wore Rose's number 14 and a Rose-like Prince Valiant haircut, and he and Rose remained close after Gioiosa left school. Following last week's indictment of Gioiosa, Rose at one point professed not to know where Gioiosa was living or what he was doing. But Gioiosa, who has been living in his hometown of New Bedford, Mass., and who describes himself as a professional gambler, visited Rose at a baseball-card show near Boston in late January. When an SI photographer asked to take his picture in New Bedford on March 16, Gioiosa said he would have to check with Rose by phone and left the room. He returned a few minutes later and said that Rose had told him to "do whatever I want to do."
Rose's veracity is called into further doubt by his insistence that he has never bet through bookies on any sport or suffered large gambling losses. Twelve sources have now told SI that Rose has bet through bookies on one sport or another. One of the sources is Rènè Longprè, a Montreal hotel manager who befriended Rose when Rose was playing for the Expos in 1984 and who had dinner last month in Florida with Rose and Joseph Cambra, a Somerset, Mass., real estate man. Longprè told SI's Dardis last week that he has placed bets with bookies for Rose on hockey and basketball games. Longprè said he placed telephone bets for Rose from Montreal's Olympic Stadium, but would not provide specific dates. As for Cambra, he pleaded guilty in 1986 in New Bedford to three bookmaking charges and paid a $6,000 fine; he told SI that he never handled bets for Rose and that he's no longer involved in bookmaking. Asked about Longprè and Cambra, Rose declined comment.
As recounted in the IRS affidavit, Janszen claims that starting in the fall of 1986 he and Gioiosa would take cash to Peters in Franklin to pay off large gambling debts owed, by Rose. Two other sources told SI that Gioiosa made similar payoff runs for Rose while accompanied by Fry. One of the sources, a passenger in the car on some of the trips to Franklin, told SI that on 10 to 15 occasions in '85 and '86 Fry and Gioiosa picked up $10,000 to $15,000 in cash—one time the amount was $30,000—directly from Rose and then drove the money to Peters. The source said the money was for football and basketball betting debts and that Fry and Gioiosa would tuck it under their clothing; Gioiosa, the source said, sometimes had "$10,000 to $15,000 stuffed in his sock."
Rose admits being an ardent gambler at the racetrack, where betting is legal. Yet even here he's under suspicion, some of it raised by last week's indictment of Gioiosa. The indictment alleges that Gioiosa falsely claimed $47,646 in income from a winning Pik Six ticket from Jan. 16, 1987, horse races at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., and used the income to offset gambling losses that would otherwise not be tax deductible. The indictment says that part of the winnings were "taxable to other persons known to the grand jury." The Cincinnati Post and Dayton Daily News reported that Rose is under investigation for tax evasion and gambling, and the News said federal officials believe Rose may have owned part of the winning ticket.
"They've got my tax records," said Rose on Saturday. "I pay a lot of taxes. I'm not trying to hide anything from the government." However, in a March 19 interview with SI, Rose revealed an apparent ignorance of IRS requirements. He said he understood that a taxpayer only had to declare gambling winnings "if you're a professional gambler." In fact, all gambling winnings must be declared.
Even while Giamatti's investigation continued last week, the many allegations and suspicions swirling around Rose were driving some of Rose's closest friends to an unhappy conclusion. "Too many things are pointing toward Pete Rose, and as a result, baseball is starting to suffer," said Bench. "The evidence is so large right now and aiming toward Pete in so many ways. All of a sudden, we're trying to find ways for Pete to step down gracefully. And that's really sad."