Anderson's lawyer says client can't get fair trial

Updated: October 9, 2004, 2:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN FRANCISCO -- Defendants charged with distributing illegal steroids to some of the nation's best-known athletes were subjected to illegal searches and coerced by federal investigators, defense lawyers said Friday.

Conte: IRS held me at gunpoint
BALCO owner Victor Conte, the man at the center of the government's investigation into the sale and distribution of illegal steroids, says that he was held at gunpoint and not read his rights when the IRS raided his office on Sept. 3, 2003, according to a motion that was filed in federal court Friday.

A source says the motion claims that IRS agents did not show Conte a search warrant until their eight-hour search was completed. Conte also claims he asked for an attorney 10 times and was denied each time during his interrogation. Further, Conte says IRS agents told him if he cooperated that day, he would avoid jail time.

The motion also claims that statements Conte made that day were used against him and the other three men who have been indicted -- BALCO vice president James Valente, track coach Remi Korchemny and Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds' personal trainer.

The source says the IRS investigators told Conte that he had been under investigation for 18 months. The IRS seized thousands of files and computer discs from BALCO headquarters in Burlingame, a suburb of San Francisco.

The raid led to a grand jury, which subpoenaed a host of sports stars, including Bonds, Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi, track stars Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones, and boxer Sugar Shane Mosley.

Earlier this week, Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield told Sports Illustrated that he used a cream provided by BALCO that, he later learned, contained a designer steroid.

-- Shaun Assael, ESPN The Magazine

The four defendants are connected to Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, a nutritional supplement lab at the center of a scandal that has rippled through the ranks of the nation's professional and Olympic athletes.

Attorneys for three of the defendants said they will seek to dismiss the federal indictments against their clients. Friday was the deadline to file motions in the case.

Alleged leaks by government officials and misconduct by the lead investigator are sufficient grounds for dismissal, said the attorney for one defendant, personal trainer Greg Anderson.

"It has come to the point now where so many leaks are continuing where our client can't even get a fair trial," attorney Anna Ling said. "Stuff that's even false is coming out."

Anderson was the trainer for San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, who was among dozens of athletes called to testify before the grand jury in November and December of 2003.

A motion for dismissal also has been filed on behalf of Victor Conte, founder of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, said one of his attorneys, Robert Holley. Troy Ellerman, the attorney for BALCO vice president James Valente, also has filed. Such motions are common in criminal cases.

Conte, Anderson, Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny are charged with distributing steroids, including the previously undetectable THG, to top athletes. Charges also include possession of human growth hormone, misbranding drugs with intent to defraud, and money laundering.

All have pleaded not guilty.

Korchemny's attorney did not immediately return calls to The Associated Press seeking comment.

Ling said she also would seek to suppress evidence and the statements investigators said her client made.

Anderson was detained illegally in his house and was not advised of his right to have an attorney present or to keep quiet, she said. He was told that if he didn't tell investigators the truth, "it will be worse for you," Ling said.

Anderson also maintains that he never incriminated himself or other athletes, contrary to a report by federal investigators, Ling said.

The U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco said it would not comment on the defense claims.

Ling also cites alleged misconduct by IRS agent Jeff Novitzky in filing search warrant affidavits, questioning of defendants and other matters related to the case.

One affidavit for a search warrant obtained by Novitzky details dozens of checks written to Conte by current NFL and major league baseball players, as well as one from an Olympic gold medalist. Novitzky's superiors issued a statement supporting him.

"This is a matter for the courts to settle," said Kenneth Hines, assistant special agent in charge of the IRS's criminal investigation division in San Francisco. "As for special agent Novitzky, we are certain of his integrity and his professionalism."

Federal prosecutors will be given a chance to respond to the motions before a hearing scheduled for Dec. 1.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.