WASHINGTON – All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada has been charged with lying to Congress about an ex-teammate’s use of steroids, the latest baseball player to get caught up in a web of cheating and juicing that has stained the sport.
Tejada is expected to plead guilty in court today. The charges against him were outlined in documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Washington.
The teammate is not identified in court documents, but he is referred to as having played with Tejada on the Oakland Athletics. Tejada won the 2002 American League Most Valuable Player award while playing for the Athletics and is a five-time All-Star. He now plays for the Houston Astros.
The documents indicate a plea agreement has been reached with Tejada. The court papers were filed a day after superstar Alex Rodriguez acknowledged past use of performance-enhancing drugs. The New York Yankees third baseman does not face charges.
The FBI also is investigating whether Roger Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, lied to Congress last year when he denied using steroids or human growth hormone. Clemens and Rodriguez top a list of big-name, drug-tainted stars, including Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, whose actions cast doubt on their on-field accomplishments.
Tejada faces as much as a year in jail if convicted on the misdemeanor charge of making misrepresentations to Congress. Under federal guidelines, he would probably receive a lighter sentence.
The charge came in a legal document called a “criminal information,” which only can be filed with the defendant’s consent and typically signals a plea deal. A hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. PST today in Washington, and Tejada and his lawyer plan to hold a news conference later in the day in Houston.
Messages left for his attorney, Mark Tuohey, were not immediately returned.
In the documents filed Tuesday, Tejada is charged with lying to investigators for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2005. Congressional staffers did not place Tejada under oath when they questioned him, but they advised him “of the importance of providing truthful answers,” according to the court papers.
During the interview, Tejada denied knowledge of an ex-teammate’s use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Tejada “unlawfully withheld pertinent information from the committee because defendant Tejada, before and during his interview with the committee staff, then and there well knew that player No. 1, one of his teammates on the Oakland Athletics, had used steroids and HGH,” the papers state.
Former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who chaired the committee in 2005, said he believed Tejada lied.
“It just shows that when you do something illegal like this, that you pay a price,” Davis said in an interview with the Associated Press.
The court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham charge that during spring training in 2003, Tejada had purchased a substance believed to be HGH from the player, giving him payments of $3,100 and $3,200.
In the Mitchell Report, which examined steroid use in baseball, Oakland outfielder Adam Piatt is cited saying he discussed steroid use with Tejada and having provided Tejada with testosterone and human growth hormone.
The Mitchell Report, issued in December 2007, also included copies of checks allegedly written by Tejada to Piatt in March 2003 for $3,100 and $3,200 – the same payment amounts in Tuesday’s court filing.
Tejada came under scrutiny after another ex-teammate, Baltimore Orioles’ Rafael Palmeiro, testified before the House committee.
In January 2008, the House panel asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Tejada lied to committee investigators when he was interviewed in connection with the Palmeiro steroids case.
When that same House panel held a hearing in March 2005, Palmeiro jabbed a finger at lawmakers and declared: “I have never used steroids, period.” Palmeiro was suspended by baseball later that year after testing positive for a steroid.
The committee looked into whether Palmeiro should face perjury charges but eventually dropped the matter.
Palmeiro said his positive test must have resulted from a B-12 vitamin injection given to him by Tejada.
That prompted Congress to talk to Tejada.
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