Defendants' attorneys allege illegal searches, coercion
SAN FRANCISCO -- No misconduct occurred during the investigation of a man charged with distributing illegal steroids to some of the nation's best-known athletes, federal prosecutors contended in briefs filed Friday.
Attorneys for four defendants charged in the case allege their clients were subjected to illegal searches and coerced by federal investigators.
The four are connected to BALCO, a nutritional supplement lab at the center of a scandal that has rippled through the ranks of the nation's professional and Olympic athletes.
An attorney for one defendant, personal trainer Greg Anderson, claims leaks by government officials and misconduct by the lead investigator are sufficient grounds for dismissal.
Anderson's attorney, Anna Ling, is seeking to suppress evidence and statements investigators said her client made. Ling alleged in a motion filed earlier this month that Anderson was detained illegally in his house and was not advised of his right to have an attorney present.
Ling also cited alleged misconduct by Internal Revenue Service agent Jeff Novitzky in filing search warrant affidavits, questioning of defendants and other matters related to the case.
Federal prosecutors countered Friday with their response, calling the arguments "meritless," adding "Anderson's statements are outright falsehoods."
In an accompanying declaration from Novitzky, the agent states that upon serving the search warrant, he told Anderson "that he was not under arrest, nor did we plan to arrest him that day, and was free to leave."
Novitzky denies any wrongdoing.
A hearing in the case is set for Dec. 1.
Victor Conte, founder of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, Anderson and two other men, BALCO vice president James 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, and their attorneys have said they would seek to have charges dismissed.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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