Pete Rose will contend that a former friend, angered when the Cincinnati Reds manager refused to lend him $40,000, falsely accused Rose of betting on Red games and triggered baseball's investigation, according to a newspaper report.
The Cincinnati Post quoted unnamed sources Friday as saying that Rose will tell the investigators the accusations were made up after a blackmail attempt by Paul Janszen.
Janszen is serving time in a Cincinnati halfway house on federal charges of evading taxes derived from the sale of steroids. Federal court documents indicate that Janszen has alleged he placed bets with a bookmaker on baseball games, including Reds' games, on behalf of an unidentified Cincinnati resident. Published reports have identified the resident as Rose.
Rose could be suspended for life if he has bet on Red games and for a year if he has bet on other baseball games.
Rose has tried to disassociate himself from Janszen and several other acquaintances from a gym in suburban Cincinnati, where Rose worked out. Several of the gym operators have been charged or sentenced as being part of a cocaine-smuggling operation.
Rose, in Philadelphia for a game against the Phillies, declined comment.
"If it's an anonymous source, I don't want to see it," Rose said. "If no one signs their name to it, I don't want to read it."
When a reporter attempted to read the story to Rose, he said: "I don't want to hear about it, either."
The newspaper said that Rose has not yet been asked to give his version of the allegations to Commissioner Bart Giamatti and John Dowd, baseball's special investigator.
Rich Levin, a spokesman in Giamatti's office, declined to comment on the matter. Rose's attorney, Reuven Katz, did not return a phone call.
The commissioner's office has confirmed that it is investigating "serious allegations" about Rose, concerning his gambling. A federal grand jury in Cincinnati also is investigating Rose, reportedly for possible tax evasion regarding gambling earnings.
One of Rose's business partners, Mike Bertolini, has confirmed that he received a subpoena to appear next week before the grand jury.
One of the bookmakers Janszen allegedly dealt with was Ronald Peters of Franklin, Ohio, who has pleaded guilty to cocaine distribution and tax evasion related to bookmaking. He awaits sentencing in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati.
A federal prosecutor has confirmed publicly that Peters claims he took as much as $1 million in bets from Rose over a two-year period. Peters has been described as Rose's principal bookmaker, a charge Rose has denied.
The Post said Friday that Rose will contend that he lent Janszen $10,000 late last summer, but turned him down when Janszen came back in late September or early October asking to borrow another $40,000. At that time, according to the newspaper, Janszen claimed to Katz that Rose owed him the $40,000, but wouldn't say for what.
Janszen told Katz late last year that unless he got more money from Rose, he would tell baseball officials that Rose had bet on games, the newspaper said. Katz reportedly turned Janszen away.