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Tag: Steroids

Barry Bonds Gets 30 Days of House Arrest in Illegal Steroid Case

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

One time baseball slugger Barry Bonds was sentenced Friday in San Francisco federal court to 30 days of house arrest, two years probation and a $4,000 fine for his obstruction of justice conviction in 2003 tied to his testimony to a grand jury probing illegal steroid use, CNN reported.

The network reported that Bond was to remain free pending his appeal.

CNN reported that fed prosecutors had recommended in a sentencing memo that Bonds, 47, serve 15 months in prison.

To read more click here.

FBI Dir. Mueller, Steroids and Getting Stranded on 3rd Base

The author (right) Greg Stejskal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

I recently read the “Time” magazine profile of FBI Director Robert Mueller noting that his 10-year statutory term was coming to an end. It was mentioned that the Director is a big baseball fan especially of the Boston Red Sox. I have also read speculation about what may be in Dir. Mueller’s future, among other things, that he might be a possible replacement for Bud Selig as Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner. Apparently that may have to wait considering the White House has announced that it will ask Congress to extend Dir. Mueller’s tenure by 2 years.

I think there may be some irony in the mentioning of the director and the baseball commissioner job. Without spoiling the whole story, I just want to say maybe one day the director may want to offer me an apology.

It was mid-February, 2005, I was sitting in my office at the FBI Resident Agency in Ann Arbor, Mi., when I received a phone call from a couple of reporters from the “New York Daily News.”

They had been referred to me by Michael Leibson, an Assistant US Attorney in Detroit, who had prosecuted a steroid case with me about 10 years before. (It was actually many cases stemming from an undercover operation. Over 70 steroid dealers were convicted in the US and Canada.)

Let me back up even further. In 1989, Bo Schembechler, the football coach at the University of Michigan convinced me that anabolic steroids were a serious problem in high school and college football. (Not all steroids are anabolic, promoting muscle growth, but for simplicity I will refer to anabolic steroids as just steroids.)

Based on Bo’s concerns and some additional research, I proposed a limited undercover operation (UCO), to target the sale of illegal steroids, the first of its kind.

FBI headquarters begrudgingly authorized it (see my column, “FBI Probe into Illegal Steroids Broke New Ground” ).

What started as regional short-term investigation became a very successful international investigation, codenamed “ Equine”, that ran for over 3 years.

One of the dealers we prosecuted was Curtis Wenzlaff. He told us that he had supplied large amounts of steroids to players on the Oakland A’s baseball team; specifically Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. The undercover operation ended in 1993, but prosecutions continued for a few years thereafter.

Jose Conseco/abc news

In August, 1994, I attended a sports presentation conference at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. (The sports presentation program had been established to train FBI agents to speak to college and pro teams about sports bribery and gambling. The presentations expanded into other topics over time.) Also in attendance at this conference were representatives from the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. From the MLB the representative was Kevin Hallinan, MLB Director of Security.

Prior to this conference, I had written an article for the August, 1994, “FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,” a national monthly magazine primarily distributed to law enforcement agencies.. The article, “They Shoot Horses Don’t They? Anabolic Steroids and Their Challenge to Law Enforcement,” was distributed to all the attendees at the conference.

That night many of the conference attendees had an informal session in the Board Room, the FBI Academy pub.

At that session Kevin Hallinan and I talked about steroids. I told Hallinan what Curtis Wenzlaff had told us about supplying steroids to players on the Oakland A’s including Jose Canseco, and my belief that steroid use was becoming pervasive in MLB as it had been in football. Hallinan said he had heard rumors of steroid use in MLB and that Canseco was one of the players alleged to be using.

Hallinan didn’t think there was much they could do as the players had rejected any efforts to require testing in the contract that had been negotiated following the strike. I told Hallinan to let me know if we could be of any assistance, but I never heard from him. In 2002, I did arrange through Hallinan to have Wenzlaff debriefed by one of Hallinan’s staff.

In the summer of 2004, I also arranged for Wenzlaff to testify before a Senate hearing regarding steroid use in sports, chaired by Senators Charles Grassley and Joseph Biden.

Christian Red from the “NY Daily News” interviewed Wenzlaff after the hearing. Wenzlaff told Red what he told us about supplying steroids to players on the Oakland As, principally Canseco, in the early 90’s. They asked if Wenzlaff had disclosed this information to the FBI. He told them he had, but he did not know whether the FBI had passed the information on to MLB.

Now back to 2005, my office in Ann Arbor and the phone call from Christian Red and T.J. Quinn (now with ESPN) of the Daily News. Red and Quinn told me they had been referred to me by Mike Leibson, the AUSA, who had prosecuted most of the Equine cases. They also told me about their interview of Wenzlaff. What they wanted to know was, had the FBI passed the Wenzlaff information on to MLB?

A moment of truth: I could have responded, “no comment”, but I knew that if I had, it would be thought that the FBI had not passed on the information.

Here was a situation where the FBI did the right thing. All the criminal cases arising from Equine had long since been adjudicated. (The usual reason for not commenting to the media is that it is inappropriate if a case(s) is being investigated or prosecuted.) So I said I had told MLB about Wenzlaff’s allegations.

I said in August, 1994, I had told the MLB’s Dir.of Security, Kevin Hallinan everything Wenzlaff had told us about his having supplied Canseco and other players on the Oakland A’s with steroids. (It wasn’t until after I had spoken to Hallinan that we learned from Wenzlaff that one of the other Oakland As players being supplied was Mark McGwire.)

The next day the fecal matter hit the air oscillating device as they say.

The front sports page of the Daily News read, “Agent: MLB turned blind eye to steroid warning 10 years ago. FBI says… THEY KNEW!” –over a full-page photo of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, resting his head in his hand. The MLB Commissioner’s office was quick to respond by denying that I had ever warned them. In fact Kevin Hallinan claimed to not even know me.

I had no idea about the Daily News article until I started receiving calls from all over the country including from Mike Wallace from “60 Minutes.”

Then I received a call from my Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC). The Detroit Special Agent in Charge (SAC), who happened to be in Washington at the time, had spoken to the Director (Robert Mueller).

I was instructed by the ASAC to make no further comments to the media. It would seem my 15 minutes of fame were over. I explained that I had not initiated any contact with the media and that the Daily News had been referred to me by the AUSA, who prosecuted the case.

My concern was having made a statement saying the FBI had warned MLB, would it now look like we were backing down in the face of MLB’s denials if the FBI made no further comment?

I did get a follow-up call from the Daily News. I told them I had been instructed not to make any further statements to the media.

Red & Quinn wanted to know if I was now retracting any part of my previous statements. I said I was not, and my reported quote was, “I don’t think I was off-base with anything I said….I hope the Bureau allows me to defend myself if necessary, but I’m not particularly worried. I can weather the storm.”

When Dir. Mueller told me to not talk to the media, (For the record, I have never met nor spoken to the Director, but was told that it was he.) I thought that maybe the FBI would support me. Instead the silence was deafening.

In the meantime the MLB continued to attack my veracity, but slowly over the next few days, they moved from complete denial to admitting, well maybe I had warned them.

The FBI never did provide any support for me or for my statement that the FBI had warned MLB about their steroid problem in 1994. It was gratifying to have others outside the Bureau go to bat for me (so to speak). Bo Schembechler told the Daily News, “If Greg Stejskal said it, that’s the way it is.” I can’t think of a better character reference than that.

I retired from the FBI in the fall of 2006, having served for almost 32 years. I never did hear from the Director although I was given a 6 month extension beyond my mandatory retirement date. The extension had to have been approved by the Director.

None of this is meant to demean the tenure of Dir. Mueller, but there are times when it is important to protect the reputation of the FBI and support the agents when they are fighting the good fight even if it means taking on institutions like MLB.

Maybe some day if Dir. Mueller does become Commissioner of MLB, he can send me an apology.

Column: Barry Bonds Fed Trial About “America’s Discomfort With Prominent, Powerful, Wealthy Black Men”

Editors Note: The jury in the Bond’s case begins its fourth day of deliberations on Wednesday. He faces charges of making false statements to a grand jury about steroid use and obstruction of justice.

By WILLIAM C. RHODEN
The New York Times

The trial of Barry Bonds has always been more than a simple case of pursuing a bad guy and proving that he lied. The chase and the subsequent trial have been as much about a baseball era driven by vanity and greed, and fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.

But the eight-year pursuit of Bonds also reflects America’s discomfort with prominent, powerful, wealthy black men.

That might seem like an incredible statement to make in a nation that elected Barack Obama as its first black president. But Obama, who has had his citizenship questioned and has been heckled by a member of Congress, has a place among men including Jack Johnson, Paul Robeson, Muhammad Ali and Bonds.

In good conscience one could never put Bonds on par with Ali or Robeson and certainly not with the president of the United States.

Bonds’s historical antecedent is Jack Johnson, who became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908.

Johnson lived a fast, unapologetic lifestyle. He incensed some blacks and enraged many whites by openly keeping company exclusively with white prostitutes and marrying at least one.

To read more click here.

Ex-FBI Agent Responds to Column

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. He writes a column for ticklethewire.com. Stejskal sent this response to William Rhoden and shared it with ticklethewire.com. The response below by Alan Gershel was also sent to Rhoden and shared with ticklethewire.com.

The author (right) Greg Stejskal and University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal

I generally agree with your premise about the prosecution of Barry Bonds as a misuse of money, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to compare the Bonds prosecution to that of Jack Johnson.

If Bonds did lie to the Grand Jury, it is a felony and arguably the Grand Jury process would not be viable if witnesses were allowed to lie under oath with impunity.

There is precedent for such prosecutions of perjury in similar circumstances. In the Michigan Fab 5 case, only Chris Webber, of all the University of Michigan players who testified, lied about having received money from Eddie Martin. Those that admitted having received the money were not prosecuted. Webber was prosecuted for perjury and he ultimately pleaded to a felony.

In the FBI steroid case (Equine) I was involved in, we did not pursue users no matter whether they were high-profile athletes. We focused only on the dealers, but at the culmination of the case in 1994, I warned MLB (Major League Baseball) about the problem and was ignored.

I’ve often wondered if we shouldn’t have prosecuted some of the athletes. In the long run it might have avoided some of these problems.

I wrote a piece about why Roger Clemens should be prosecuted. Despite what you say about that prosecution being forced on the Department of Justice, I think the arguments I make apply to both cases.   (Here’s a column I wrote on the steroid problem and Clemens)

Ex-Federal Prosecutor Alan Gershel Also Responds

Alan Gershel worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for nearly 30 years, and was chief of the Criminal Division from 1989 to 2008. He is currently a full-time professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, Mi.

Alan Gershel/cooley law school photo

By Alan Gershel

Dear Mr. Rhoden: as a former federal prosecutor, I read your article regarding the prosecution of Barry Bonds with great interest. You have stated that Barry Bonds was prosecuted for his “unlikability” and that the government’s effort”was a colossal misuse of time and money…”

You also seem to suggest that protecting a grand jury investigation is an “altruistic goal” not worth pursuing. I respectfully disagree. The prosecution of Barry Bonds is eminently justifiable.

A grand jury investigation is a search for the truth. Its success depends almost entirely on witnesses, who have been placed under oath and who are advised of the consequences should they fail to do so, telling the

truth. Perjurious testimony is an anathema to a search for the truth.

I am assuming we can agree that the nature and scope of the government’s investigation was a serious and legitimate one. If you do concur, then witnesses who may have information regarding the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball are legitimate witnesses. Once called and placed under oath, they cannot intentionally lie with impunity.This is what the prosecution is about.

It is not about the personality or race of Mr. Bonds. To have ignored his alleged false testimony, would have been giving Mr. Bonds favorable treatment because of his celebrity or the government’s fear of controversy. An unacceptable result, assuming there was sufficient evidence to prosecute.

Finally, an important deterrent message flows from a case of this nature that hopefully will have an impact on future investigations.

Barry Bonds’ Ex-Girlfriend Delivers a Punch for the Prosecution

Kimberly Bell/fox news

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

As days go, Monday was not Barry Bonds’ best one.

His ex-girlfriend Kimberly Bell testified in U.S. District Court in San Francisco that the former baseball slugger for the San Francisco Giants told her he used steroids but “didn’t shoot it up everyday like bodybuilders did,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Bonds is charged with lying about his steroid use while testifying before a federal grand jury.

Bell also testified that Bonds blamed a career-threatening elbow injury in 1999 to the use of steroids, the paper reported.

The drugs “somehow caused the muscles and tendons to grow faster than they could handle and (the elbow) somehow blew out,” Bell testified, according to the Chronicle.

She testified that after taking steroids Bonds became increasingly angry and controlling and muscular and “developed acne on his upper shoulders and back,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “His hair was falling out quickly, and he ended up shaving it all off.”

She testified that his testicles changed shape and shrunk.

The defense went after her during the cross examination, trying to portray her as a jilted lover who tried to profit from the relationship. She posed nude in Playboy and pitched a book about Bonds, the Chronicle reported.

Column: Fed Prosecutors Wasting Time Making a Criminal of Barry Bonds

By Sally Jenkins
Washington Post Columnist

Barry Bonds is a lot of things, leading off with obnoxious, but he doesn’t meet my definition of a criminal.

There is a growing school of legal thought that says we have a dangerous tendency to “overcriminalize,” using criminal law to try to solve every single social problem in America. Some things are mistakes and not crimes. And some people are jerks, but not jail-worthy.

Just because Bonds used steroids, and might be unethical or morally blameworthy, doesn’t mean he deserves to be hounded by prosecutors for almost a decade. Criminal law should be reserved for our very worst offenders, and to use it on anyone else doesn’t actually strengthen respect for the law, but weakens it.

To read full column click here.

Barry Bonds’ Trainer Refuses to Testify in Fed Court: Ordered Back to Prison


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Barry Bonds slugfest began Tuesday with some drama  as the baseball slugger’s trial got underway in federal court in San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ordered Bond’s boyhood friend and longtime weight trainer Greg Anderson back to prison Tuesday for the duration of the trial after he refused to testify, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Bonds is accused of lying to a federal grand jury when he said he didn’t take steroids.

“If you change your mind and want to testify, just let everyone know ASAP,” the judge said, according to the paper.

Anderson is no stranger to prison. He’s already served more than a year for contempt for refusing to cooperate with fed prosecutors, who want him to deliver some damaging evidence. And the San Francisco Chronicle reported that he also severed several months in prison for steroid dealing.

In opening statements Tuesday, the prosecution portrayed Bonds as a experienced steroid user who lied about his use, the paper reported. Bond’s attorney countered by saying that Bond told the truth and was falsely accused by former bitter friends and associates.

It’s Game Time for Barry Bonds; Fed Trial in San Francisco Begins

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s game time for the baseball legend Barry Bonds.

Jury selection begins Monday in federal court in San Francisco for the home run slugger who is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying when he said he didn’t take steroids.

Bonds, 46, is not likely to face prison time even if convicted, according to the web site California Watch. The site reported that two defendants convicted of lying about steroids were sentenced to home confinement by Bond’s current judge, Susan Illston.

Ex-Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent says an acquittal would greatly enhance Bond’s chances of making it into the Hall of Fame, according to California Watch.  A conviction would set him back in his bid at least 30 years, Vincent said.

Fed Agents Misbehavin in 2010

 
 
By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON — Thousands of federal law enforcement agents work their tails off to put crooks behind bars. But on occasion, some of the very same folks who carry a gun and a badge and slap the cuffs on the bad guys end up stepping over the line. Way over the line.

AOL News thought it was worth looking back at some of the more notable of these incidents from 2010:

Temper, Temper: Dallas FBI agent Carlos Ortiz let his temper get the best of him. He pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to charges that he plotted to kill his estranged wife, an FBI analyst and his boss. Earlier in the year, Ortiz was placed on leave after his wife accused him of domestic violence. Then in August he was fired after investigators learned that he had called a friend about buying a sniper-type rifle and talked about killing his wife and his boss, Robert Casey Jr. The friend, a former law enforcement type, called the FBI.

To read more click here.