Doctor in Panthers steroid probe sentenced to prison

Updated: July 17, 2006, 5:09 PM ET
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The doctor who pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally prescribe steroids to several Carolina Panthers was sentenced Monday to one year and one day in prison.

Chief U.S. District Judge Joe Anderson delayed the date on which Shortt must report for prison until the conclusion of any possible appeals, which Anderson said were "almost certain." That could mean Shortt won't begin serving his sentence until 2008, the judge said.

Dr. James Shortt pleaded guilty in March to one federal count of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. Prosecutors have said current and former members of the Panthers were some of Shortt's patients.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped 42 other counts against Shortt.

Chief U.S. District Judge Joe Anderson ordered Shortt to pay the minimum fine, $500, and a $100 special assessment. He will also serve two years on supervised release.

The maximum sentence for the charge was five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Shortt also faces a state criminal investigation in the 2004 death of a Minnesota woman who died three days after receiving intravenous hydrogen peroxide to help her multiple sclerosis.

The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners revoked Shortt's medical license in May.

Anderson delayed the date on which Shortt must report for prison until the conclusion of any possible appeals, which Anderson said were "almost certain." That could mean Shortt won't begin serving his sentence until 2008, the judge said, estimating the appeals process could take a year and a half.

Shortt has 10 days to appeal his conviction and sentence. His lawyer, federal public defender Allen Burnside, wouldn't comment Monday.

Anderson said he would recommend that the 59-year-old Shortt serve his time at the prison closest to his family.

The additional day tacked on to the one-year sentence means Shortt will be eligible to earn credits for good behavior, which could reduce his time served to less than 11 months, Anderson said.

Shortt acknowledged he "went beyond the boundaries that I should" in writing the prescriptions for testosterone and human growth hormone to professional athletes.

"My intention was to help them reach their goals," he said.

Shortt also said he had no intention of applying for a medical license in California, where he now lives.

"I have accepted the fact that my career is over," Shortt said. "I certainly have no intention of ever doing it again."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press