NEW YORK, Oct. 5 LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire — Marion Jones-Thompson, 31, of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty today to charges of making false statements to federal agencies in connection with two investigations conducted out of the Southern District of New York and the Northern District of California, respectively; Michael J. Garcia, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and Scott N. Schools, the
United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, announced
Jones-Thompson pleaded guilty before Kenneth M. Karas, United States
District Judge for the Southern District of New York, to a two-count
Superseding Information filed earlier today. According to the Superseding
Information and other documents filed in Manhattan, White Plains and San
Francisco federal court, as well as statements made during today’s guilty
plea proceeding: An elite, professional track and field athlete,
Jones-Thompson’s achievements include winning five medals while
representing the United States, including three gold medals, at the 2000
Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Jones-Thompson lied to New York federal agents investigating a sprawling check fraud/money laundering scheme involving, among others, Timothy Montgomery, a former Olympic gold medalist and 100 meter record holder, and Steve Riddick, a 1976 Olympic
gold medalist and Jones-Thompson’s former track coach. Additionally,
Jones-Thompson falsely denied to federal officials in California that she
had taken performance enhancing drugs, and made other false statements
during their investigation into the activities of Balco Laboratories, Inc. (“BALCO”).
The New York Investigation
The co-conspirators orchestrated a scheme to defraud numerous banks out of millions of dollars by laundering stolen, altered and counterfeit checks
by depositing those checks into various bank accounts they controlled,
among other methods. The investigation has resulted in the convictions of
over 20 individuals in this and related cases, including Montgomery,
Riddick, and Charles Wells, the former sports agent for Jones-Thompson and Montgomery. Instances of the fraud include a counterfeit check for $850,000 deposited in April 2005 into a business account controlled by Nathaniel Alexander, a friend and officemate of Riddick’s. The co-conspirators then sought to distribute the proceeds of the $850,000 counterfeit check, in part by issuing a check for $25,000 from Alexander to Jones-Thompson, which check Jones-Thompson then deposited into a bank account she maintained.
Alexander was convicted on May 10, 2007, of bank fraud, bank fraud
conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy charges following a jury trial before Judge Karas. Additionally, in May 2005, Montgomery deposited a counterfeit check for $200,000 into a business account he jointly controlled with Jones-Thompson. Jones-Thompson and Montgomery, who resided together at various times between 2002 and the summer of 2005, executed
documents to add Jones-Thompson as a signer on Montgomery’s business
account several days before he deposited the check. An agent of the New
York Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and other Government officials interviewed
Jones-Thompson on Aug. 2, 2006, and Sept. 5, 2006, at the United States
Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. During the
interviews, Jones-Thompson made the following false statements and
concealed the following material facts: (a) on Aug. 2, 2006, Jones-Thompson falsely stated that she was unaware of a $25,000 check Alexander had made out to her, which she had endorsed; (b) on Aug. 2, 2006, and Sept. 5, 2006, Jones-Thompson falsely stated that she was unaware Montgomery had received any large checks in 2004 or 2005, including the $200,000 counterfeit check; and (c)on August 2, 2006, and Sept. 5, 2006, Jones-Thompson fraudulently
stated that she had no knowledge of Montgomery’s involvement in a
counterfeit check fraud scheme. In her plea today, Jones-Thompson admitted to having made the false statements knowingly and willfully.
The California Investigation
A federal criminal investigation commenced in the Northern District of California in 2002, concerning a scheme to distribute anabolic steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs and the related money laundering of the proceeds by BALCO, a California corporation located in Burlingame, California, which performed blood-testing and other functions.
While investigating BALCO, the investigation developed information
regarding the drug distribution activities of Trevor Graham, who coached
professional and Olympic track and field athletes, including Jones-Thompson from approximately 1997 to 2002. The investigation subsequently expanded to include, among other things, whether various witnesses had made false statements during interviews with federal agents. On Sept. 3, 2003, a federal search warrant issued by a United States Magistrate Judge in the Northern District of California was executed at the BALCO premises in Burlingame, California. Among other things, investigators obtained evidence
concerning Jones-Thompson and her relationship with BALCO and Graham,
including her receipt and use of drugs they provided.
The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID), San Jose Office, was the lead investigative agency throughout the course of the California investigation. As part of that investigation, on Nov. 4, 2003, a Special Agent of IRS-CID, along with another Government official,
interviewed Marion Jones-Thompson. Prior to the interview, Jones-Thompson
and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of
California executed a letter-agreement which provided that any statements
Jones made during the interview would not be used against her in connection with any prosecution, except under limited circumstances. The
letter-agreement specifically stated that Jones-Thompson was not immunized from prosecution for making false statements during the interview.
During the interview on Nov. 4, 2003, Jones-Thompson made false
statements and concealed material facts by fraudulently stating that she
had never seen or ingested a performance-enhancing drug known as “the
clear,” that she had never received the drug from Graham, and that she had never used any performance-enhancing drug. In her plea today,
Jones-Thompson admitted that she had taken such drugs for approximately a
year, beginning prior to the 2000 Olympic Games. She stated that while she did not realize at the time what she was using, she admitted that she
realized by the end of 2003 that she had been given performance-enhancing
drugs by a previous coach, and that she acted knowingly and willfully when she falsely denied, in 2003, having used such substances. Jones-Thompson faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for each of the two false statements counts in the Superseding Information, for a total of 10 years.
The sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 11, 2008 before Judge Karas.
Mr. Garcia stated, “Deceiving federal agents in the course of their
investigations disrupts and impedes the proper administration of justice
and is a serious matter. Even if the truth is eventually uncovered, the
lies throw investigators off track, waste time and resources, and create a real risk of a miscarriage of justice.”
Mr. Schools stated, “The federal government will vigorously prosecute
individuals who provide false statements to its agents. Individuals who lie to federal agents interfere with the government’s ability to investigate criminal conduct and undermine the efficiency of government
Peter J. Smith, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York ICE Office,
said, “Marion Jones-Thompson lied to agents during an important financial
investigation. The potential harm from the check fraud conspirators
reflects greed and the exploitation of our financial systems. Today’s plea is an example of ICE’s commitment to identify and bring to justice those who would challenge the security of these systems, and I want to thank all of the special agents who worked the investigation that culminated in these
“Providing false information to the government is a federal crime. Ms. Jones-Thompson’s guilty plea proves the seriousness of this crime, and
demonstrates the commitment of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division to
finding the truth,” said Scott O’Briant, Special Agent in Charge for the
IRS’ Oakland, California Field Office. “The message should be clear, when
you lie or mislead investigators for any reason, as in this case involving
the use of illegal steroids, those actions will be aggressively pursued.”
Mr. Garcia praised the work of ICE in the investigation of the New York case, and Mr. Schools praised the investigative efforts of the IRS-CID in
the California case.
The New York investigation and prosecution is being handled by the
Major Crimes Unit of United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern
District of New York. Assistant United States Attorneys E. Danya Perry and
Daniel W. Levy are in charge of the case.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey D. Nedrow, Jeffrey R.
Finigan, and Matthew A. Parrella, Chief of the San Jose Division of the
United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California,
are in charge of the California investigation and prosecution.