Report: Lawyer cited as source of leak in BALCO case

Updated: December 21, 2006, 7:01 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A private investigator who worked for defendants in the probe of a Bay Area sports steroid ring said a defense lawyer was the source of leaked federal grand jury testimony in the case, according to a report published Thursday.

Larry McCormack, former executive director of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, told the FBI that defense lawyer Troy Ellerman gave the confidential information to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter in 2004, Yahoo.com reported.

"We do have an investigation on those allegations that he [Ellerman] was responsible for the leak," FBI spokesman Joe Schadler told The Associated Press.

Ellerman, who serves as commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, represented Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative. He later represented BALCO vice president James Valente. Both men pleaded guilty in 2005 to distributing steroids.

McCormack told Yahoo he contacted the FBI on the advice of his attorney about three months ago, after he was fired from the Colorado Springs, Colo., hall of fame. Ellerman helped him get the job, but McCormack denied that he identified the lawyer as the source of the leak in retaliation for his firing.

"I felt it was wrong," McCormack said of the leaks. "I said it was wrong from the get-go."

Ellerman refused to talk to Yahoo about McCormack's allegations and could not be reached by phone Thursday by the AP.

McCormack said Ellerman leaked testimony to Chronicle reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada.

Fainaru-Wada and reporter Lance Williams, who have spearheaded the newspaper's coverage of steroid use, face up to 18 months in prison for refusing to reveal how they obtained the 2003 grand jury testimony of Giants' slugger Barry Bonds and other elite athletes.

Williams and Fainaru-Wada declined to comment on the report, saying they were standing by a commitment to protect their sources.

McCormack said FBI agents had him secretly record conversations with Ellerman.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press