Former Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada is expected to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington this morning to a charge that he lied to congressional investigators about illegal performance-enhancing drugs - telling them he knew nothing though he had discussed steroids with an Oakland Athletics teammate and paid him for human growth hormone.
According to a criminal information document filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia yesterday, Tejada provided "misrepresentations" to staffers from the congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Aug. 26, 2005. It was part of the perjury investigation of former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro.
The document in the misdemeanor charge can be filed only with the consent of the defendant, meaning Tejada likely has reached an agreement with prosecutors and subsequently is expected to enter a guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Alan Kay at 11 a.m. today.
The document filing came one day after Major League Baseball was rocked with another steroid scandal when New York Yankees superstar third baseman Alex Rodriguez admitted to ESPN that he took illegal performance enhancers for three years while with the Texas Rangers.
Tejada could face up to a $1,000 fine and one year in federal prison, according to the United States Code, though federal sentencing guidelines suggest a term of probation to six months served.
"It's a definitive signal that he's pleading guilty and likely cooperating," said former Baltimore federal prosecutor Andrew C. White, who is not involved in the case but was making suppositions based on information provided to him.
In such a case, White said, Tejada could have been charged with the felony of lying to Congress, so the lesser misdemeanor suggests the agreement includes an obligation to "cooperate against other persons."
A conviction, however, could jeopardize Tejada's right to work in the country, White said. Misdemeanor offenses routinely lead to deportation for non-U.S. citizens, and Tejada has only Dominican Republic citizenship.
Anyone living in this country who is not a citizen "and has been convicted of a particular crime in the United States, that person could be and may be subject to removal proceedings," said Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Tejada, his agent and his attorney did not return phone calls.
"I'm surprised they would let him plead it if he only admitted he lied about others' use. It seems like an odd way to prosecute the case, but you never know the reason they structured the deal the way they did. I assume it means that one, he's cooperating with them now, and, two, they maybe don't have a strong case that he used anything."
The six-page criminal information document alleges that Tejada, now with the Houston Astros, said he never used steroids and had no knowledge of other players' usage. An Oriole at the time of the 2005 interview, Tejada said he was not aware that any of his former Oakland teammates had used illegal performance enhancers.
According to information from investigators and included in baseball's Mitchell Report, the government charges that Tejada knew an undisclosed Oakland player had used human growth hormone and steroids and withheld that information.
The federal document alleges Tejada not only conversed with the unnamed Oakland player about steroids, but also gave him two checks on March 21, 2003, in the amounts of $3,100 and $3,200 to purchase hGH.
According to the document, the Oakland player did not know whether Tejada used the hGH. Tejada was not charged in the federal document with using illegal drugs.
Based on information in the Mitchell Report, the player in question is former A's outfielder Adam Piatt, who played with Tejada in Oakland and told the Mitchell investigators that he sold steroids and hGH to Tejada.
A $3,100 check made out to Piatt from Tejada on March 21, 2003, is included in the Mitchell Report, which was released Dec. 13, 2007, the day after Tejada was traded from the Orioles to the Astros for five players.
Piatt told Mitchell investigators he purchased performance-enhancing drugs from Kirk Radomski, the former New York Mets clubhouse attendant at the center of the steroid scandal.
Tejada's testimony in 2005 was in response to former Orioles teammate Palmeiro's testimony that he had failed an MLB random drug test in May 2005 after receiving a vial of liquid vitamin B-12 from Tejada.
The congressional committee wanted to determine whether Palmeiro was lying when he famously wagged his finger and told the committee in March 2005 that he never used any types of steroids. Palmeiro was suspended that August after the announcement that stanozolol was found in his system during the random test. Palmeiro was never charged with perjury but has not played professional baseball since the 2005 season.
Tejada, a former American League Most Valuable Player with the A's, signed a six-year, $72 million deal with the Orioles in December 2003. He will make $13 million this season in the final year of that deal.
Baltimore Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.
NOT FULL DISCLOSURE?
Though Miguel Tejada allegedly discussed steroids with Athletics teammate Adam Piatt and paid him for human growth hormone, he gave these answers when questioned by congressional staff on Aug. 26, 2005 (according to federal court documents):
Staff: Has there been discussions among other players about steroids?
Tejada: No, I never heard.
Staff: You never heard any of that?
Staff: When you were playing with the Oakland A's, they had a reputation in some places as a place where a lot of players used steroids; were you aware of that?
Interpreter: In the big leagues or in the minor leagues?
Staff: Big leagues.
Staff: You never heard of any other player using steroids?
Staff: Or just that it was even an issue for some players? [The question was translated by the interpreter.]
Tejada's attorney: Are you suggesting when he was playing with Oakland or today?
Staff: When he was playing? [The question was translated by the interpreter.]
Tejada: I didn't know any player.
To read the entire court document, go to baltimoresun.com/orioles