POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – When he was discovered on a Pompano Beach football field apparently coaching young children, Darron Bostic denied who he was.
"That ain’t me," he said. "I’m not Darron … I don’t know that guy."
But it was definitely Bostic. The telltale tattoos -- teardrops under his left eye, a "P" between his eyes, and his nickname "Pimp" tattooed on his neck – were clearly discernible.
He apparently didn’t want to talk about allegations that he’d provided the powerful laxative magnesium citrate to a 15-year-old player for the city-sponsored Deerfield Beach Bison last season. The family alleges he was given the laxative so he could drop 20 pounds in a few weeks to make the 160-pound weight limit for a big game.
His mother, Ebony Lawson, said on game day she overheard that big bets were being made, as much as $20,000. She doesn’t have proof of any bets made, but she said the talk of it made her suspicious.
Her son Jerome said players were talking of bets as well and even said he heard his Bison team was a 21-point underdog to rival Pompano Chiefs.
After the game was over, Lawson said she watched in horror as Jerome’s body seized up after the game, his arms and legs stiffening and curling in, making her believe he was having a stroke.
Jerome said Bostic, in addition to giving him four bottles of magnesium citrate in the days leading up to the game, had also instructed him to eat only vegetables and fruit and drink only water, while at the same time working him out in the evenings after practice.
The family said it was all so Jerome could drop 20 pounds in a few weeks to play in the rivalry game against the bordering team, the Pompano Chiefs.
Lawson said after she rushed Jerome to the hospital, doctors told her if she had tried to make it home Jerome would have likely died. He was in the hospital three days recovering with what the family said was kidney damage caused by the magnesium citrate’s effect on his empty stomach.
"What that magnesium citrate was doing was working on his muscles, and his kidneys have paid for it," said the family’s attorney, Donald Norton, adding that Jerome is still undergoing routine medical tests to determine if there is permanent damage. "And we don't know if they are coming back to normal levels."
Norton sent a letter informing the city of his intent to sue both Deerfield Beach and the Bisons back in October, a month after the game.
"The city of Deerfield Beach was negligent for failing to properly supervise the youth football league and its agent, Darron Lashawn Bostic, to provide a dangerous amount of laxatives, magnesium citrate, to youth players in order for them to rapidly lose weight," wrote Norton, adding that the laxative "caused [Jerome] to become severely dehydrated and sustain kidney damage."
Norton also claimed Bostic never should have been on the field in the first place.
"Bostic had a criminal history that made him inappropriate to coach youth football," Norton wrote.
The attorney was referring to Bostic’s arrests, which include a high-profile bookmaking arrest in 2012 for allegedly betting on youth football games. The Broward Sheriff’s Office conducted that investigation in response to an ESPN broadcast that included footage of apparently large amounts of cash being exchanged at youth football games in South Florida.
That case against Bostic and eight co-defendants was later dropped by prosecutors, however, with no convictions. Bostic was arrested in 2015 on charges of dealing crack cocaine, but that case was also dropped by prosecutors, as was a previous cocaine dealing arrest in 2003.
Bostic has a misdemeanor battery conviction, according to the State Attorney’s Office, and in 2005 was sentenced to three years probation after pleading no contest to felony fleeing from police.
Deerfield Beach Mayor Bill Ganz, who had fought for tougher background checks for coaches in the past, said swift action was taken when the city received Norton’s claim letter.
"The city immediately went and pulled the badge of the coach and the person was not allowed to return to the field," said Ganz.
That made it all the more shocking that Bostic was found this week on a field in Pompano Beach where he was clearly coaching young players for another team, the Deerfield Packer Rattlers, which is no longer affiliated with the city.
It was then Bostic denied his own identify and refused to answer questions on camera, including whether he gave Jerome magnesium citrate. He did say at one point during questioning that he was falsely accused in the bookmaking case.
"I’m not Darron," he said. "I don’t know who you’re talking about."
Packer Rattlers President Alex Benefield soon arrived at the practice and said that Bostic was not approved to coach for the team and should not have been on the field with children.
"He shouldn't have been with the kids coaching," said Benefield. "Immediately when I saw him and saw the situation, I pulled him out of the park."
Benefield said he was aware of the allegations involving magnesium citrate.
"I feel sorry for the kid that kidneys are damaged," he said. "We would never allow anyone on our park that would hurt a kid like that."
When it was pointed out that the person accused was in fact on his field coaching, Benefield said that would never happen again and said that the Florida Youth Football League to which his team belongs could fine his team for allowing a coach who isn't approved to coach.
FYFL President Martin Maultsby said his league does indeed forbid unapproved coaches on the field and said the Packer Rattlers could be fined if it's determined Bostic was coaching without league vetting.
When Bostic was pulled from the field, he spoke off-camera. He denied giving anyone magnesium citrate and said he was falsely accused of bookmaking on youth football games and crack cocaine charges. He said a prosecutor's contention that he was a documented gang member dates back to when he was a teenager.
Norton said the case involving his young client should reverberate across the youth football world.
"This can't go on," he said. "This has got to be a wakeup call for youth football across the country."