Attorney says booze, media led him to leak BALCO documents

Updated: June 6, 2007, 11:54 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- The disgraced criminal defense attorney facing prison for leaking grand jury testimony in the BALCO steroids investigation blamed alcohol, drugs and depression for his downfall, according to court documents filed by prosecutors Wednesday.

Troy Ellerman also said journalists' constant "hounding" led him to show transcripts of testimony by baseball stars Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and other athletes to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter.

In the filing, prosecutors asked a federal judge to sentence Ellerman to two years in prison for leaking confidential grand jury testimony to the reporter and then lying about it under oath.

A judge is scheduled to sentence Ellerman on June 14. His lawyer argued in court papers for a 15-month prison sentence, while probation officers recommended 18 months.

Ellerman admitted earlier this year that in 2004 he allowed reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada to view transcripts of the grand jury testimony of Bonds, Giambi, Detroit Tigers star Gary Sheffield and sprinter Tim Montgomery.

Ellerman had transcripts of the athletes' testimony because he had briefly represented Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, the Burlingame supplements lab at the center of the performance enhancing drug scandal.

BALCO vice president James Valente later became Ellerman's client.

The Chronicle published stories in 2004 that reported Giambi and Montgomery admitted to the grand jury that they took steroids, while Bonds and Sheffield testified they didn't knowingly take the drugs. The leaked testimony was also featured prominently in the book "Game of Shadows,'' co-authored by Fainaru-Wada, which recounts Bonds' alleged use of steroids.

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig asked Giambi to talk to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who is heading baseball's internal steroids investigation.

The 44-year-old Ellerman initially blamed federal investigators for leaking the testimony, going so far as to call them "unadulterated punks" outside court and file a motion to dismiss the case against his client because of government misconduct. A federal judge asked the Department of Justice to investigate whether government agents were the source of the leaks.

"Mr. Ellerman's illegal conduct significantly impacted the investigation and prosecution of the BALCO case, and has continued to negatively impact the government's ongoing efforts to investigate and prosecute matters associated with BALCO," prosecutors wrote to the probation department in a letter filed with the court Wednesday.

Prosecutors pointed to Ellerman's motion to dismiss as evidence that there was more to blame than drugs and alcohol for Ellerman's deceit.

"The government does not fully accept defendant's assertion that his actions were in no way calculated," federal prosecutors said in court papers asking the judge to send Ellerman to prison for 24 months.

Scott Tedmon, Ellerman's attorney, didn't return a telephone call Wednesday. In court papers filed late Tuesday asking for a 15-month prison sentence, Tedmon wrote that Ellerman is remorseful and has given up his license to practice law in California.

"Given the punishment Mr. Ellerman has already endured, having lost two full professional careers and suffering widespread public ridicule in the media for his actions among other losses in his life, no further amount of deterrence for Mr. Ellerman is necessary,'' Tedmon wrote.

Ellerman was also fired as commissioner of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association when he pleaded guilty to four felony charges of obstruction of justice and disobeying court orders in February.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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