Clemens: Not guilty, your honor

7-time Cy Young award winner enters plea in federal court

August 30, 2010|By Kim Geiger, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — — More than two years after Roger Clemens told Congress that he had never taken steroids or human growth hormone, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner pleaded not guilty Monday in federal court to charges that he lied about the alleged doping.

Clemens uttered just one phrase to U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton: "Not guilty, your honor." He had arrived at the courthouse more than 4 hours before his 2 p.m. arraignment. Walton set a trial date for April 5.

The charges stem from a 2007 report on doping in baseball that alleged Clemens had used anabolic steroids on multiple occasions in 1998, 2000 and 2001, and human growth hormone on multiple occasions in 2000.

Clemens repeatedly told lawmakers and congressional staff that the allegations in the report were false. On Aug. 19, he was indicted on three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.

The indictment does not offer specific proof that Clemens ever used the banned drugs, but alleges that he lied to Congress when he refuted the claims of others who said he had used the substances. Federal prosecutors said Monday that they have agreed to provide the defense with a 34-page master index of evidence, computer disks and "scientific evidence."

Clemens, 48, was a star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros. In 23 seasons, he was an 11-time All-Star who recorded 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and a career earned-run average of 3.12. His career statistics would make him a cinch for the Hall of Fame when he is eligible in 2013, but a conviction related to the steroid scandal would cast doubt on his accomplishments in the eyes of many voters.

If convicted, he faces up to a $1.5 million fine and 30 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines he is more likely to face a sentence of 15 to 21 months.

A status hearing on the defense's review of the evidence was set for Dec. 8, with a preliminary hearing on the case scheduled for March 28.

San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds has been charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a federal grand jury when he testified in 2003 that he had never knowingly used steroids. His trial will begin a few weeks before Clemens'.

The allegations in the report were based largely on statements from Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee, who cooperated with investigators in exchange for assurance that he would not be prosecuted. McNamee also produced needles, gauze pads and syringes that he said were used to inject Clemens.

In February 2008, Clemens repeatedly denied the allegations in sworn testimony at a public hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and in a deposition with congressional staff. In both instances, he testified voluntarily.

"Let me be clear," Clemens said at the hearing. "I have never taken steroids or HGH."

Clemens was offered a plea deal before his indictment was handed down, but he declined the offer.

"I never took HGH or steroids," he wrote in a Twitter message hours after the indictment was made public. "And I did not lie to Congress."

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