16 July – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – United States Attorney Kevin Ryan, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark W. Everson, Acting FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford, and San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force Commander Mark Wyss announced that Victor Conte, Jr., James J. Valente, and Greg F. Anderson pleaded guilty today in connection with an indictment charging conspiracy, money laundering and distribution of anabolic steroids to dozens of elite track and field athletes and professional athletes from Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
In pleading guilty, Victor Conte, James Valente and Greg Anderson admitted to conspiring to distribute and distributing illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to athletes. The controlled substances they admitted to distributing are:
* A testosterone/epitestosterone cream known as “The Cream”
* A synthetic and then-undetectable steroid derivative, tetrahydragestrinone, also known as “The Clear” or “THG”
* Injectable human growth hormone
* Injectable and oral anabolic steroids
* Erythropoietin, or “EPO”
* Modafinil, and
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan said, “This investigation has helped reveal how the use of anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs can be surprisingly dangerous and harmful. The pursuit of athletic excellence with drug use comes at a great cost – to the health of the athlete, to the integrity of the athlete’s sport, and to the ideal of fair competition. Athletes cheat not only themselves but those who would follow their example, as well their fans. The consequences of this behavior are in fact serious. The defendants’ guilty pleas to these federal criminal charges are the first of their kind, and demonstrate our commitment to addressing these issues. I thank IRS – Criminal Investigation, the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force, and the Food and Drug Administration for their invaluable assistance in this investigation, and I thank the members of my trial team for their steadfastness and commitment to this case.”
“Tracing the flow of funds was critical to establishing that Mr. Conte and Mr. Anderson laundered money from the illegal distribution of steroids,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “This chain of events should be a cautionary tale for anyone involved in this type of activity. Our criminal investigators will continue to contribute their financial expertise to important law-enforcement cases like this that go beyond tax enforcement.”
Roger L. Wirth, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation in Oakland stated: “In summary, the BALCO case was made by IRS detecting suspicious cash transactions on the part of Conte that led our special agents on a financial trail to illegal steroid distribution, money laundering and ultimately, to today’s guilty pleas. We will continue to devote our investigative resources in conjunction with the U. S. Attorney’s Office to cases such as this that significantly change the world for the better.”
San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force Commander Mark Wyss said, “The San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force is enthusiastic about the guilty pleas and our participation with the BALCO Laboratory investigation and law enforcement exposing the organized efforts associated with the illegal distribution and use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.”
“The distribution and abuse of unapproved drugs and the illegal dispensing of prescription drugs are serious crimes with dangerous public health consequences,” said Dr. Lester Crawford, Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. “The FDA remains very concerned about drug abuse for athletic enhancement and the dangerous message it sends our youth. We will continue to seek prosecutions for these offenses, and I commend the hard work of the investigative and prosecution team that led to today’s convictions.”
“The FDA, along with the members from our Office of Criminal Investigations and partners from the law enforcement community remain focused on taking action against those who put the public in harm’s way by manufacturing, distributing or selling illegal drugs and misusing legal substances,” said Margaret Glavin, FDA Assistant Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs.
Mr. Conte, the president and chief executive officer of the Bay Area Lab Cooperative, or BALCO, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids to athletes and then laundering the proceeds in order to conceal the proceeds of the illegal activity. Conte admitted to knowingly participating in a conspiracy to illegally distribute steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. He further admitted that he laundered the proceeds derived from the sale of the illegal steroids by taking funds deposited into his personal account which were derived from the sale of anabolic steroids and using those funds to pay another person, in the form of third party checks, to mix additional units of “The Cream,” an anabolic steroid, thereby promoting the ongoing illegal distribution of “The Cream.”
Mr. Anderson, a personal trainer for athletes, obtained steroids from BALCO and distributed them to athletes. Upon receiving checks from athletes as payment for steroids, Anderson laundered the proceeds by willfully causing another person to cash the checks in that person’s name, in order to conceal his receipt of checks from athletes as payment for the sale of steroids. Anderson did not contest that there was probable cause that $22,500 that was seized from his residence on September 3, 2003, represented proceeds from the criminal steroid trafficking and money laundering activity with which he was involved.
Mr. Valente, the vice-president of BALCO, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to athletes. He admitted that he was aware that Victor Conte received payments for steroids in the form of checks that were deposited into his personal account. At the direction of Victor Conte, Mr. Valente admitted to making a record of monies owed to Victor Conte for steroids previously supplied. He also admitted to ordering epitestosterone for use in manufacturing “The Cream.” Also, in furtherance of the conspiracy, Valente illegally distributed steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to Greg Anderson.
Mr. Korchemny, who was originally indicted with Conte, Valente and Anderson, did not enter into a plea agreement this morning. A change of plea hearing was scheduled for July 29, 2005.
Victor Conte and Greg Anderson pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and one count of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956. James Valente pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids, also in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.
On February 12, 2004, Victor Conte, Jr., 55, of San Mateo, James J. Valente, 50, of Redwood City, Greg F. Anderson, 39, of Burlingame, and Remi Korchemny, 73, of Castro Valley were charged with conspiracy, money laundering and distribution of anabolic steroids.
The sentencing of these defendants is scheduled for October 18, 2005, before Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco. The government has made the following sentencing recommendations, however, the sentences will ultimately be determined by the court: Victor Conte: 4 months in prison, 4 months of home detention and 2 years of supervised release. James Valente: probation. Greg Anderson’s sentence will be argued in court at the sentencing hearing.
Jeff Nedrow and Jeffrey R. Finigan are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Susan Kreider. Matt Parrella, Chief of the San Jose Branch also provided substantial assistance with the investigation and prosecution. The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent Jeff Novitzky. Amy Scott with the Food and Drug Administration, and the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force also assisted in the investigation.
A copy of this press release and related court filings may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can .
Further procedural and docket information along with electronic court filings for criminal cases filed since February 2005 are available at (click on the link for “to retrieve documents from the court.”)