WASHINGTON -Former Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada issued a tearful apology at a news conference in Houston yesterday, hours after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misleading Congress regarding his knowledge of steroid use in major league baseball.
"I made a mistake, and now I know how serious a mistake I made," Tejada said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "I take responsibility, and I'm very sorry for what happened."
Tejada took no questions during the news conference at Minute Maid Park.
Earlier in the day, Tejada, who plays for the Houston Astros, admitted he lied to congressional investigators in August 2005 during an interview in a Baltimore hotel room when he said he was unaware of other major league players using performance-enhancing substances.
Federal Magistrate Judge Alan Kay released Tejada on his own recognizance and ordered the player to appear in court for sentencing March 26. The maximum sentence for Tejada's offense is one year in prison and a $1,000 fine, but sentencing guidelines are zero to six months.
Tejada's acceptance of responsibility would likely work in his favor for a relatively light sentence. Kay also reminded Tejada he is not a United States citizen, saying, "Your plea of guilty may have some impact on your immigration status," and the judge asked Tejada whether he had discussed that issue with his attorneys. Tejada said he had.
Kay's comment raised the question of possible deportation, but a lawyer for Tejada, Mark Tuohey, said the guilty plea should have no impact on Tejada's remaining in the United States, according to the Houston newspaper. Tuohey said the guilty plea "brings the matter to a conclusion," and he added he is hopeful the player would receive probation.
As he left the Washington courtroom, Tejada, dressed in a dark charcoal suit, crisp white shirt and dark tie, nodded polite hellos to spectators but said nothing else.
Kay conducted the hearing at a deliberate pace, making sure Tejada - who speaks English as a second language - understood what was going on and understood questions Kay posed to him. Tejada occasionally consulted with his lawyers who flanked him, Tuohey and William Lawler.
Tejada's legal problems stemmed from the congressional testimony of another ex-Oriole, Rafael Palmeiro, who told Congress in March 2005 that he never took steroids and during the ensuing season tested positive for steroids. Palmeiro then said his positive test might have been the result of a contaminated vitamin B-12 shot he said he had received from Tejada.
Congressional investigators eventually asked Tejada about his knowledge of steroid use in baseball and Tejada said he didn't know of any players involved in steroids and hadn't heard any such discussions.
Meanwhile, former Oakland Athletic Adam Piatt said in the Mitchell Report, the result of an investigation into performance-enhancing drug use in baseball that was released in December 2007, that he supplied Tejada with human growth hormone for a total of $6,300 when the two were with the A's in 2003.
Although Piatt was not named in court papers filed by government prosecutors, the criminal information document that outlined Tejada's offense refers to a player supplying Tejada with hGH. Yesterday, prosecutors said Tejada contended he did not use the substance and discarded it and there was no proof to the contrary.