Q. And in 1984 did Mr. Gioiosa place bets for Mr. Rose?
A. Yes, he did.
Q. And in 1985 did he place bets for Mr. Rose?
A. Yes, he did.
Q. And in 1985 what sports activities did he place bets on?
A. He bet college basketball, professional football and major league baseball.
Q. And that continued into 1986?
Q. And when [Pete Rose] bet baseball, did he bet on the Cincinnati Reds?
A. Yes, he did.
Q. And was this at a time that he was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is there any doubt in your mind?
A. Absolutely not....
Q. Now, moving to 1987, in approximately May of 1987, did you begin to take sports action for Pete Rose again?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And would you tell us how that came about?
A. Paul Janszen came to visit me at Jonathan's Cafe and said he would like to place bets for Pete Rose and himself....
Q. And am I correct that this betting took place sometime from the middle of May until about July 4th, 1987?
A. That's correct.
Q. And during that time did Mr. Janszen, on behalf of Pete Rose, place bets with you on the Cincinnati Reds at the same time that Pete Rose was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds?
A. Yes, he did.
—Ron Peters, a former bookmaker, questioned under oath by John Dowd, baseball's chief investigator in the Rose case
As Ron Peters recalls it, he picked up the phone—his "big bettor" hot line, the one reserved for his highest-rolling customers—and was startled. "Yeah, this is Pete," said the caller. Peters says he recognized the voice immediately. On the other end of the line was the customer referred to in Peters's betting records by the code number 14. It was, according to Peters, Pete Rose.
Peters says that by this time—a Sunday in the autumn of 1985—he had been taking sports wagers from Rose for nearly a year. Those bets, however, had always been placed by Rose's crony Tommy Gioiosa, according to Peters; Rose had never called directly. On this occasion, Peters says, Rose wanted to get some action down on the day's NFL games but couldn't find Gioiosa. "[Rose] got the [betting] line [from me] and made the bets right there on that same phone call," says Peters. Peters maintains that on each bet Rose, using gambling jargon, said he wanted to wager a certain number of "dimes"—each dime being $1,000.
According to Peters, more calls from Rose followed—not many, maybe a half dozen spread out over the next two years. As Peters tells it, Rose phoned only on those days when he couldn't locate either Gioiosa or Paul Janszen, another Rose pal who allegedly placed bets later for Rose, as Gioiosa is said to have done on football, basketball and baseball. Some of those baseball wagers, Peters says, were placed in 1985 and '86, when Rose was still a player. During all the phone calls, according to Peters, Rose recklessly disdained his agreed-upon code number—the same 14 he proudly wore during his illustrious 24-year career as a major league player and still wears as the embattled manager of the Cincinnati Reds—and identified himself as "Pete." Rose used some of the calls, says Peters, to bet on football and basketball games. But during at least three of these calls, according to Peters, Rose placed wagers on baseball and on his own team, the Reds. "Every time [Rose] called, he'd bet on the Reds if they were playing," says Peters.
So alleges Peters in interviews with SI and in transcripts of testimony he gave before baseball investigators as part of their four-month probe of Rose. Peters offers a compelling account of Rose's alleged involvement in baseball betting between 1985 and '87, a long-simmering subject that boiled over last week and left the sport in turmoil. First, on Sunday, in a court not two miles from Riverfront Stadium, where Rose's Reds play, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Norbert Nadel issued a startling challenge to the authority of baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. Nadel granted Rose a temporary restraining order blocking baseball from holding a hearing on the allegations facing Rose that baseball had scheduled for the next day in Giamatti's New York City office.
On Monday afternoon Nadel unloosed, albeit grudgingly, another blockbuster. Under orders from the Ohio Supreme Court, he released the 225-page investigative report on Rose prepared for Giamatti by baseball's special counsel, John Dowd. The report laid out in detail—and with what seemed to be overwhelming corroboration from interviews, telephone records, taped phone conversations and betting records—Rose's alleged involvement in betting on baseball and on his own team. The report listed three bookmakers with whom Rose allegedly placed baseball wagers between 1985 and '87: an unnamed New York bookie, a Staten Island, N.Y., man identified only as "Val" and, most prominently, Peters. The report said that to hide his gambling Rose usually placed his baseball wagers—and illegally bet on other sports—through any of five intermediaries, who were identified as Gioiosa; Janszen; Janszen's girlfriend, Danita Marcum; a Rose acquaintance, Steve Chevashore; and Brooklyn, N.Y., baseball-card and memorabilia dealer Mike Bertolini.
According to the report, Rose has been implicated in baseball betting one way or another by Peters, Janszen, Marcum and several other sources. One of the others, James Procter, an acquaintance of Janszen's, was quoted in the report as saying that in the spring of 1987 he overheard a phone conversation as Rose placed baseball bets with Janszen. Another Janszen acquaintance, David Bernstein, told baseball investigators that on several occasions he answered calls from Rose and passed the phone to Janszen, who then took down Rose's baseball bets. Bernstein also told of having attended several Reds home games with Janszen at which he saw Janszen give Rose hand signals indicating to Rose how his baseball bets stood. Rose, according to Bernstein, would come out of the dugout and look over at the two men when he wanted updates on scores; Janszen would get the updates by calling a sports hot line from a stadium pay phone. The signals, the report said, were used at a time early in the '87 season when Riverfront Stadium's scoreboard was not fully operational.
As outlined in the report, Rose has run up huge gambling debts that have forced him to sell off cars and repeatedly take out bank loans. Janszen, the report said, told investigators that over one three-month period Rose got $400,000 in debt through baseball bets that Bertolini placed with the unnamed New York bookie. Bertolini is an associate of Rose's in Hit King Marketing, which puts on baseball-card shows.
Rose, who has publicly denied having bet on baseball, repeatedly made the same denial in a sworn deposition he gave Dowd. In his testimony, Rose also denied having been in debt from gambling losses—he said he "owes nobody nothing"—and dismissed allegations that seemed to suggest otherwise by saying that they "don't mean diddly-squat to me." But Dowd's report also quoted Rose as admitting under oath that on one occasion a bookie had threatened, in Rose's words, "to burn my house down and break my kid's legs if I didn't pay him." And Dowd's report concludes with a list of 24 other alleged inconsistencies in Rose's version of events.
The report presents no evidence that Rose ever bet against his team, but that question is irrelevant if it can be proved that he bet on Reds games at all—or indeed on baseball period—because baseball Rule 21(d) states with stark finality:
"Any player, umpire or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.
Any player, umpire or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible."
In filing their request for the temporary restraining order against baseball, Rose's lawyers argued that Giamatti and Dowd had prejudged Rose as guilty and had denied him fair treatment. Rose's lawyers contended that the scheduled hearing before Giamatti threatened "irreparable harm" to their client's reputation, and asked that the baseball-betting charges against Rose be resolved by a jury trial instead of at a hearing before Giamatti.
In their suit, Rose's attorneys were particularly harsh on Dowd, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who formerly worked for the U.S. Justice Department. They accused Dowd of slanting his investigative report in an effort to put Rose in the worst possible light. One of the witnesses called to the stand at last week's hearing before Nadel, Sam Dash, who had served as chief counsel to the Senate Watergate committee, assailed Dowd's investigation as flawed and one-sided. He testified that "if [during Watergate] I had been given that report by one of my deputies or investigators, I would have fired him." Rose's attorneys focused on a portion of Peters's April 5 deposition during which he and Dowd discussed a deal that had been made:
Q. Now, on behalf of the Commissioner we have an understanding; do we not?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you correct me if I'm wrong, but in exchange for your full and truthful cooperation with the Commissioner, the Commissioner has agreed to bring to the attention of the [U.S.] District Judge in Cincinnati, the fact that you were of assistance to us and that we believe that you have been honest and complete in your cooperation. Is that the understanding?
A. Yes, it is.
Peters at the time was awaiting sentencing after having pleaded guilty to charges of cocaine trafficking and making a false statement on an income tax return. He was to be sentenced in Cincinnati by U.S. District Judge Carl Rubin. On April 18—two days before baseball's investigators even interviewed Rose, his lawyers complained in court—Giamatti sent a letter to Rubin (who later recused himself from the case) lauding Peters for his "candid, forthright and truthful" testimony to baseball. Rose's attorneys argued vigorously last week that by vouching for Peters's honesty, Giamatti had clearly indicated that he believed Rose to be guilty.
Dowd took the stand on Thursday afternoon and on Friday, and he put forth a strong defense of both his investigation and Giamatti's impartiality. Dowd repeatedly stressed that Giamatti had not made up his mind about Rose's guilt or innocence. He said that Giamatti had signed the letter to Rubin on his advice, believing it to be a "routine" follow through on a routine investigative step.
However, in summarizing his investigation, Dowd left little doubt that Rose's future in baseball was in serious jeopardy. He testified that nine people interviewed by the commissioner's investigators had in some way implicated Rose in baseball betting. Baseball's lead attorney, Louis Hoynes, said that the commissioner's office has "evidence, substantial and heavily corroborated, that Mr. Rose bet large sums of money on major league baseball games and on games of the Cincinnati Reds."
In his closing statements on Friday, Hoynes called Rule 21(d) "the most important [one] in the Major League rule book" and noted that it is posted in huge type in every baseball clubhouse. He argued that no court has ever interfered with baseball's long-established system of justice, in which the commissioner has sweeping powers to protect the game's integrity, and that Rose, despite his illustrious career, did not merit any special treatment. Nadel closed the session by saying he would announce his decison at noon on Sunday.
By Sunday the mood in Cincinnati was palpably tense. Rumors abounded that if baseball's hearing was allowed to proceed, Rose would resign or be fired—Reds coach Dave Bristol was said to be a possible successor—or would not show up at Giamatti's office the next morning, thereby giving the commissioner grounds to suspend him. As noon approached, fans waiting for the gates to open at Riverfront Stadium for the Reds-Dodgers game huddled nervously around transistor radios and hand-held television sets. When Nadel made his announcement, they erupted in cheers, and the stadium gates opened.
In granting the temporary restraining order, Nadel suggested that, legally speaking, the case had entered "previously uncharted waters," and that in his view "the Commissioner of Baseball has prejudged Peter Edward Rose." Nadel cited as evidence Giamatti's letter extolling Peters, whom he labeled Rose's "chief accuser," and ruled that holding a hearing the next day before Giamatti would be "futile and illusory and the outcome a foregone conclusion." He scheduled for July 6 a hearing on Rose's attorneys' motion for a preliminary injunction. On Monday baseball countered by asking the First Ohio District Court of Appeals to suspend Nadel's ruling.
Nadel's decision drew harsh criticism from many legal experts, who saw it as a hometown, home-court ruling by a judge afraid to rule against a local hero. "It's absolutely outrageous," said Gary Roberts, a professor of antitrust and sports law at Tulane. Roberts described Nadel's ruling as "a purely partisan, political decision, as opposed to a legal decision. I can't see any legal grounds for this."
Nadel was described by several Cincinnati area attorneys contacted by SI as diligent and earnest but not particularly adept at grappling with legal issues. Some legal observers noted that Nadel, a Cincinnati native, will be up for reelection in 1990 and cannot be unmindful of Rose's popularity in the Queen City. Nadel refused to comment on the criticism.
As Nadel issued his ruling, the man he identified as Rose's chief accuser watched on TV at his home in Franklin, Ohio, 40 miles north of Cincinnati. Peters, 32, surfaced as a key figure in the case in March, when he approached several publications seeking to sell his account of his dealings with Rose. He has since abandoned that quest, and he agreed to talk to SI without payment. Peters said he wanted to demonstrate his integrity and to refute charges that he is implicating Rose for financial gain. As he said in his deposition to Dowd, "I have nothing personally against Pete Rose."
Peters is the first to admit that his memory of certain dates and exact amounts wagered is fuzzy. However, SI pressed him on every point of his story during several days of interviews and found him to be consistent in his version of the events. And baseball's report purports to corroborate much, if not all, of Peters's story. On the other hand, Rose—as noted in the list at the end of Dowd's report—has been caught in several apparent contradictions. At first he denied that he had ever met Peters. Recently he acknowledged having done so. He has also claimed to SI that he never bet through a bookie, though baseball's report quotes him as admitting that he had. Furthermore, Rose, who is under investigation by the federal government for possible tax evasion, told SI in March that he had not in any way been involved in a $265,669 winning Pik Six ticket in January at Turfway Park racetrack in Florence, Ky. In March the owner of the track, Jerry Carroll, admitted that he and Rose had shared in the winnings from that ticket.
Rose's attorneys have said that Peters, Janszen and the other Rose accusers are lying. Rose's side has been trying to discredit Janszen, who was released from a federal halfway house in Cincinnati on June 16 after having served four months for income tax evasion. Rose's legal team cites at least four grounds in attacking Janszen: that he is a felon, that he allegedly tried to blackmail Rose over what Janszen claims was a $40,000 debt owed to him by Rose, that he has sold his account of his involvement with Rose to Penthouse magazine for publication later this year and that Janszen failed one of the three polygraph tests he took for baseball investigators.
But Janszen's credibility was enhanced by an assertion in the Dowd report concerning what Janszen has identified as three betting sheets of Rose's. The report said that a handwriting analysis had confirmed that the sheets were in Rose's handwriting. And The New York Times quoted an unnamed federal law enforcement official as saying that the three sheets—all currently in the possession of the FBI—bear Rose's fingerprints. Rose says the sheets are forgeries. In their lawsuit, Rose's lawyers referred to them as "three pieces of paper Janszen allegedly stole from Pete Rose's home."
On the same day that Janszen was released from the halfway house, Peters was sentenced to two years on his drug-trafficking and tax charges; he will begin serving his sentence at a federal prison camp on July 17. In depicting Peters as a liar, Rose's side has seized on the fact that Peters is a felon and has charged that he provided information damaging to Rose to baseball and to federal authorities in hopes of getting a lighter prison sentence. Rose's attorneys also point to testimony from Peters that Rose once owed him, and failed to pay, a large gambling debt. They questioned how, in light of this allegation, baseball could deny that Peters had an ax to grind. But Peters says that, in his mind, that debt was eventually settled. And, in citing the alleged debt as part of their client's defense, Rose's attorneys seem to almost acknowledge that Rose had such a debt. Peters appears to have far more reason to be unhappy with Janszen—who set him up for the cocaine sale that resulted in his drug conviction—than with Rose.
In the end, Rose's defenders may have difficulty contending with the sheer wealth of detail that Peters, like Janszen, has provided about Rose's alleged baseball betting. According to the transcripts of his questioning by baseball investigators, Peters said that he handled baseball wagers of $2,000 to $5,000 a game for Rose during a three-year span covering what he called the "Gio era" (1984-86) and the "Janszen era" ('87). He estimated in an interview with baseball investigators that Rose bet around $1 million with him, but he later told SI that that was a "very conservative" figure. "It was a lot more, I'm sure," he said. Alluding to betting slips that he turned over to baseball and that cover what he said were some of Rose's wagers from '87, he said, "Alan [Statman, one of Peters's lawyers] added the money up for those slips and it came to over $800,000. That was just a half season."
Both the report and Peters portray Rose's involvement with betting as obsessive, almost desperate. Peters says that on one occasion Rose called him to place baseball bets just minutes before a Reds home game. After hanging up, Peters says he turned on the game on TV and saw Rose at Riverfront Stadium. "I remember that distinctly because he called...and made a bet," Peters says. "He also bet on the Reds that day, and five minutes later I go look at the TV and there he is in the dugout." Peters concluded that Rose had placed the bets from inside the stadium.
Another time, says Peters, Rose paid him a visit. Rose arrived with Gioiosa and another friend, Michael Fry, for lunch at Jonathan's, a restaurant in Franklin owned by Peters at the time. Peters says that the visit wasn't entirely social: Rose had more than $30,000 coming in winnings on football and basketball wagers with Peters, and he had driven his Porsche from Cincinnati to Franklin to collect. During lunch, says Peters, he paid up.
Peters and Rose share some similarities. Both like action, both exude confidence and both have a roguish charm and a flamboyance that belie their relatively humble southern Ohio roots. Yet Peters never imagined he would one day be in a position possibly to topple one of baseball's greatest stars. While growing up in Franklin, Peters focused his energies on golf—while also displaying a flair for gambling. In elementary school, he says, he would win his classmates' lunch money pitching quarters. As captain of the Franklin High golf team he coaxed opponents and teammates into $1 to $3 Nassau wagers and cashed in on most of those, too. After high school Peters became an assistant golf pro at Beckett Ridge Country Club in West Chester and expanded into larger golf bets. Between those wagers and some nighttime poker games, he made good money.
Two Beckett Ridge members that Peters befriended in the late 1970s were Jay Basil and Jim Eveslage, both of whom, according to Peters, helped steer him toward his eventual involvement with Rose. Basil was a dentist who made book on the side. In the early '80s he took Peters on as his bookmaking assistant for $300 a week. Within six months Peters was an equal partner in the business, and about a year after that he bought Basil out. "What had happened was, Ronnie had taken over and I was just a name," says Basil, who says he is no longer involved in illegal gambling.
As luck would have it, Eveslage worked out regularly at Gold's Gym in suburban Cincinnati. A former bodybuilder at Gold's describes the scene there as "a three-ring circus." One group particularly stood out—the bodybuilder friends of the gym's most famous habituè, Rose. They drove expensive sports cars and wore thick gold chains and diamond Rolex watches.
At the core of this group were the gym's co-owners, Fry and Donald Stenger, and Rose's buddy Gioiosa. According to a source who worked out at the gym, Gioiosa, who once had lived with Rose as a sort of unadopted second son, was known to do things like show up at Gold's in Rambo attire carrying a rifle. Two former Gold's lifters recall seeing Gioiosa in the parking lot at Gold's throwing around, as if it were a football, a thick wad of $100 bills held together with elastic bands. Gioiosa's greatest contribution to Gold's was introducing Rose to the gym. Rose began working out there, and eventually ads appeared billing the establishment as PETE ROSE'S GOLD'S GYM.
What follows is Peters's account of his relationship with Gioiosa, Rose and Janszen. In the fall of 1984 Eveslage was working out at Gold's when Gioiosa asked him a question: Do you know any bookies who could handle bets for Pete? Eveslage thought of his friend Peters and called him.
Peters was not immediately receptive. "I said, 'Well, I have heard that Pete has stiffed bookmakers,' " he says. According to Peters, three other bookies had told him that Rose had failed to pay off gambling debts either to them or to bookmaking acquaintances of theirs. To protect himself, Peters asked the Gold's crew for a $10,000 deposit from Rose—just in case.
When Peters went to Gold's to pick up the deposit, he was struck by the sight of the massive gold jewelry—"the Mr. T starter sets," he says—and by how impressed the lifters were with Rose, who wasn't even there. "They wanted me to be impressed that Pete was their friend," says Peters.
He claims he wasn't. "The only excitement about it was, I knew [Rose] was going to be [worth] a lot of money," says Peters. "The more money they [people] bet, the more they lose." To Peters's considerable surprise, Gioiosa was all but chortling at that prospect. "You're going to love this guy's action," he told Peters. "All he does is lose. You're going to make a fortune."
Peters gave Gioiosa three phone numbers to call when he wanted to put down a bet. One was the "big bettor" line. Peters told Gioiosa to call that number first, and to use the other lines only if it was busy.
Peters says that when it came time to hand over Rose's deposit, Gioiosa, who often wore pocketless sweats, bent down and pulled $10,000 in $50 and $100 bills out of one of his socks—a favorite cache. Peters says that Gioiosa didn't seem to care that the two of them were standing in the open, right by the gym's front counter.
The next weekend, Gioiosa phoned in Rose's first bets. They were on college and pro football games, Peters says. Rose lost $11,000 on the wagers. When Peters and one of his assistants went down to Gold's to collect, they were shown into Fry's office. "[Gioiosa and Fry] closed the door, handed me $11,000 and laughed about it," says Peters. "I remember [Gioiosa] laughing, and him saying, 'I told you he [Rose] would lose. You're going to make a killing off of him.' "
After Rose's third successive losing week, Peters says, Gioiosa called and said, "I think I ought to get a cut on some of this action." Peters feared that if he didn't comply, Gioiosa might take Rose's business elsewhere. So, he says, he agreed to start paying Gioiosa 10% of Rose's net losses. "Then [Gioiosa] laughed even harder," says Peters. Gioiosa may have had even more reason to laugh. Fry says that Rose was giving Gioiosa a percentage of his winnings for running his bets.
Gioiosa, who is under federal indictment for tax evasion and conspiracy to distribute cocaine and who last week refused a third request to discuss with SI his alleged involvement with Rose, soon began ripping off Rose by lying to him about betting lines, according to Peters. Rose would think he had lost and Gioiosa would pocket the winnings without Rose's knowledge. "He bragged to me that he was cheating Pete," says Peters.
Peters says he had unwritten ground rules covering his dealings with Rose. In general, whenever one side owed the other $10,000 to $15,000, the debt would have to be paid, in cash. Most often Peters and Gioiosa would meet roughly halfway between Gold's Gym and Peters's home, either in the parking lot of a mall or at a gas station just off Interstate 75 in West Chester.
Fry told SI that he accompanied Gioiosa on between 10 and 13 of these payoff runs, and says that he and Stenger often lent Rose thousands of dollars to pay off what they understood to be gambling debts. "Gambling is all [Rose] did," says Fry. "He was up all hours of the night watching [on TV] sports events that he had bets on." Fry says he does not know of Rose betting on baseball—only on pro and college basketball and football.
Peters carried a nine-millimeter pistol on payoff trips because, he says, he didn't trust Gioiosa. Peters normally kept that weapon and a .38 revolver at home, where he had thousands of dollars hidden in, among other places, a planter in his family room. By 1985, Peters had about 75 customers and enough income to afford several sports cars, a new house and what he estimates at $75,000 in jewelry for his wife, Lori, from whom he is now divorced.
Peters says Rose contributed significantly to his wealth, and he is not alone in that assessment. "It wasn't anything for [Rose] to lose $25,000 to $40,000 in a week," says David Morgan, who worked as Peters's assistant from 1983 to '87. "Sometimes he'd win that much. What made him such a good client is that he'd bet $3,000 to $5,000 a game—and he'd bet 10 to 20 college basketball games at a time. Football was the same. He'd bet anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to $7,000 on seven, eight or nine games—college on Saturday, pro on Sunday.
"I know this from charting the bets. Ron would answer the phone, and I could always tell when if was Gioiosa [calling]. They always shot the——on the phone. They'd make fun of each other, and they'd make fun of Pete."
Morgan, who was interviewed during baseball's investigation, says he once answered a call from Rose and then handed the phone over to Peters. As a lifelong Reds fan, Morgan says he is fairly sure it was Pete's voice, though he can't absolutely swear it was. On that day, the action was on football or basketball. "I was sitting there next to Ron," says Morgan. "...I was watching Ron write out the bets. He put a big P on top of a piece of paper. The P stood for Pete." Peters wrote down a list of bets—some for Rose and some for Gioiosa and the others at Gold's, under the heading GTO or GIO BUD. Gioiosa and friends usually bet no more than a few hundred dollars on games.
Gioiosa, like Janszen after him, hung out in the Reds' clubhouse and boasted about it. According to Peters, Gioiosa sometimes left Reds tickets for him at the will-call window at Riverfront Stadium, under either Gioiosa's name or Rose's. Peters says Gioiosa left him tickets for the 1985 Reds-Padres game in which Rose broke Ty Cobb's career record with base hit No. 4,192. Peters says he watched the game from a seat in the third base stands.
Until 1986, Peters had met Rose only once, during a mid-1985 visit to Gold's. On that occasion, says Peters, they were introduced, but Rose showed no interest in conversing. Rose left the gym with a perfunctory "Nice to meet you."
Rose and Peters had their only other meeting, the one at Jonathan's Cafe, in early 1986. Peters remembers it in detail.
It was 1 p.m., time for a late lunch. Rose brought a black Mizuno bat as a gift. After sitting down at a table, he autographed the bat: "To Jonathan's Cafe My Good Wishes Pete Rose." Says Peters, "He had to ask me how to spell Jonathan's." Moments later a blind man with a seeing-eye dog walked over from the bar and asked Rose to sign the animal's collar. "I'll autograph anything you got, but get that——dog away from me," said Rose.
After Rose, Fry, Peters and Gioiosa ordered soft drinks, Peters and Gioiosa slipped off to the men's room to transact business. Peters recalls the amount he owed Rose as being between $34,000 and $37,000. He took wads of $100 and $50 bills from the front of his pants and gave Gioiosa the money. He also handed Gioiosa a paper bag in which to carry the payment. "I didn't want him to put it in his goddam sock." says Peters. They returned to the table and joined their colleagues for lunch.
Peters says he is uncertain as to exactly when Rose began wagering on baseball. "I just remember Gioiosa calling me up and saying, 'Do you mind if Pete bets baseball?' " says Peters. "I said, "Well, hell no, I don't mind.' " Peters says that Gioiosa started by placing wagers of $2,000 to $5,000 a game on four to seven games a day for Rose and that Gioiosa usually would put down these bets four or five days a week. "[Rose] was mostly a National League bettor, although he did like to bet on the Yankees and the White Sox," says Peters.
When asked why he thinks Rose would bet on baseball—an activity that, if proved, would take away his livelihood and jeopardize his once-certain election to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 1992—Peters replies, "Because he lost so much money on the other sports. It was what he knew, and he felt like he had to get some of the money back that he lost and he did. He was good at betting baseball."
As Peters tells it, Rose's prowess at baseball betting was at times almost uncanny. Peters says that Rose won bets on all six games of the 1985 National League Championship Series between the Cardinals and the Dodgers, thereby earning himself some $20,000. Peters, on the other hand, took a bath on baseball betting. He estimates he lost $60,000 a year on baseball wagers in 1985 and '86.
When it came to the Reds, Peters says, Rose always bet on them to win, usually for $2,000. In baseball betting, the odds are often pegged to the starting pitchers. "Baseball asked me if he ever did not bet a [Reds] pitcher, any specific pitcher," says Peters. "I don't know. They seemed to have information that he did not bet on games that Mario Soto pitched. That's their theory; I never noticed."
In Peters's deposition to Dowd, the two of them had this exchange:
Q. All right. Did there come a time when you taped Pete Rose?
Q. And would you tell the Commissioner about that?
A. I taped Pete on an occasion [in 1986] when he personally called and made seven baseball bets, one being [on] the Reds. [It was] insurance, if you will, to make payment to me if he ever-decided not to.
Q. And did you play that tape for Pete?
A. I played it back to him immediately.
Q. And what was his reaction?
A. He was very upset.
In his interview with SI, Peters said he could recall Rose's exact words upon hearing the tape. "He said, 'What the——did you do that for?' " says Peters. "I said, 'Business reasons. I'm sure you understand." Pete was screaming and hollering. He said, 'I can't——believe you did that to me....' I thought that might be the end of our gambling relationship. But Pete just kept right on betting."
The whereabouts of that tape—assuming it in fact exists—is a mystery. Such a tape would be the incontrovertible evidence that Rose bet on his sport and his team. Peters says he packed the tape in a box and believes that his former wife, Lori, with whom he is not on friendly terms, may have the tape. Lori told SI that she was not aware that her husband had ever taped phone conversations with any of his clients. She said that she had allowed baseball investigators to search her garage for the alleged Peters-Rose tape. They did not find it.
Peters says he usually took pains to avoid detection by police. He says he periodically moved his bookmaking operation—generally he worked out of apartments or homes in the Franklin area—and he shredded or burned most of his betting records. Rose's attorneys have raised this latter point, asking how it was that Peters happened to have saved some betting slips alleged to be Rose's. Peters says he kept them, as he did the tape, for protection and because Rose and Janzsen were not very prompt in settling their accounts.
At one point early in 1986, says Peters, Gioiosa tried to get him to accept three $8,000 checks as payment for a $24,000 debt that Rose owed. "I said no, I don't want to take those and endorse them and jeopardize myself," says Peters. "So [Gioiosa] took them back and Mike Fry cashed them, probably with drug money." (Fry and Stenger are serving prison sentences for cocaine trafficking and tax evasion.) Copies of the three checks, which are all signed by Rose and made out either to cash or to Gioiosa, are in the possession of baseball. All three checks are endorsed by Gioiosa or Fry or both.
Peters likes to say that all bettors are good until their last bet. "There's always that last time that they won't pay or can't pay," he says. "That's usually how most gambling relationships between bookie and customer end." With Rose and Peters, the end seemed to arrive in late 1986, with Rose allegedly $34,000 in debt to Peters. According to Peters, Gioiosa came to him one day and told him that Rose had said, "I've lost enough.——Ron Peters." Here's what Peters told Dowd:
Q. Did Tommy Gioiosa ever try to explain to you why Pete was unable to pay his debts?
A. He said—Tommy said that Pete said that he's lost enough to me and another bookmaker in New York and he just was not going to pay.
Q. Did Gioiosa describe this bookmaker in New York to you at all?
A. No. He just told me it was a bookmaker in New York. He didn't give any names or where at in New York.
Q. Did he indicate to you that it was a Mafia bookmaker?
A. Yes, he did.
The suggestion that Rose had other bookies was not new. Peters and Morgan say that before Peters came along, another Cincinnati bookmaker, Bill Hickman, now dead, handled Rose's action. And Peters says that in recent years Rose has "definitely" had a New York bookie.
Fry told SI that Bertolini placed bets on Rose's behalf with New York bookies. "Mike served Gio's role, but in New York," says Fry. "Pete would run up a tab with Peters and not have cash, so he'd bet with a New York bookie." Bertolini could not be reached for comment last week, but in an interview with SI in March he said that "there is no one closer to [Rose] than me" and that when Gioiosa and Rose began drifting apart in 1986, "I started to be to Pete what Tommy was." Bertolini denied to SI that he ever placed bets for Rose, and added, "I hate to gamble...I go to the track...and I just can't deal with that mentality."