New Saint Lehr Being Investigated For Possible Involvement Steroid Distribution Ring
Posted 08 April 2008 - 08:24 AM
04:23 AM CDT on Tuesday, April 8, 2008
By JASON TRAHAN and GARY JACOBSON / The Dallas Morning News
Federal authorities in North Texas are investigating a former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman for allegedly distributing steroids and have subpoenaed a current member of the Atlanta Falcons to testify for federal grand jurors in the matter, The New York Times reported late Monday.
But the attorney for Matt Lehr, 28, who played for the Cowboys from 2001 to 2004, says his client has done nothing wrong.
The attorney, Paul Coggins, has repeatedly told The Dallas Morning News over the past several weeks that he could not confirm that Mr. Lehr was being investigated.
Mr. Coggins could not be reached late Monday, but he said in February and reiterated Monday afternoon, "We have no reason to believe, based on what we know, that Matt is going to be doing anything for the next five years other than playing football."
The Times' story, published online Monday night, says Mr. Coggins acknowledged that his client was under investigation but said the investigation would probably be dropped.
The Times did not identify which Atlanta Falcons player has been subpoenaed to testify in the case.
Mr. Lehr, who recently signed a free-agent contract with the New Orleans Saints, is being investigated for his alleged dealings with Plano personal trainer, amateur bodybuilder and admitted steroids trafficker David Jacobs.
Authorities have not charged Mr. Lehr with any crimes, and the existence of a federal investigation is no guarantee of an indictment.
Repeated attempts to reach Mr. Lehr at his Denton County home and by e-mail have been unsuccessful since early this year as The News has investigated his connection to Mr. Jacobs.
Late last year, Mr. Jacobs pleaded guilty to federal charges that he manufactured steroids in his home from raw materials imported from China and sold them to bodybuilders, personal trainers and friends.
Authorities searched his Plano home in April 2007 and dismantled his lab. He was arrested about a month later and is awaiting a formal sentence of three years of probation. His plea deal with prosecutors includes revealing to them how he imported his raw steroid materials.
Mr. Jacobs denies that he gave up any of his customers' names to prosecutors. But he says during the course of their investigation of him – which he says dates back to 2005 – authorities tracked his associations and developed the information on their own.
"My attorney has advised me not to publicly discuss any specific names," he told The News.
Last week, the lead prosecutor in the case, Sam Cantrell, left the U.S. attorney's office and entered private practice in Dallas. He did not return phone calls.
The name of his replacement on the case has not been released.
Mr. Lehr received a four-game suspension in 2006 for violating the NFL's banned-substance policy while he was with the Atlanta Falcons. Mr. Coggins said his client is no longer involved with banned substances.
"Matt has clearly been suspended once for using, for testing [positive]," Mr. Coggins said. "The feds don't – at least never have in the past – prosecuted people for using. Not everyone who failed a NFL test or Major League Baseball test would get prosecuted by the feds."
Mr. Coggins said his client continues to take weekly drug tests designed to detect steroids and will continue to do so as long he's with the NFL. He has passed them all, his attorney said.
Travels the country
Mr. Lehr, who met Mr. Jacobs in fall 2006, is known to crisscross the country attending bodybuilding competitions and has appeared in photographs with Mr. Jacobs and other bodybuilders. People familiar with bodybuilding say these events are heavily attended by steroid users and dealers.
Andrea Trent, a former girlfriend of Mr. Lehr's, said Mr. Lehr was with Mr. Jacobs at the Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, as late as March 2007 – five months after Mr. Lehr's NFL suspension. All three appear in a picture together that was posted on the Web site Getbig.com.
The Arnold Classic is one of the top bodybuilding competitions in the country and is named after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilder.
"David and Matt were close and pretty tight," said Ms. Trent, adding that they worked out together "all the time."
Mr. Coggins said pictures showing Mr. Lehr and Mr. Jacobs together are meaningless.
"What does that picture prove?" he said. "They worked out together."
Mr. Coggins said Mr. Lehr has abided by NFL rules since his suspension a year and a half ago
"He knew that a recurrence was going to be the end," Mr. Coggins said. "So he cleaned himself up. He got a second chance. He's made the most of it."
Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, told The Times that the league is cooperating with the investigation.
The Times said that in an e-mail that Mr. Aiello did not say what the league's cooperation entailed and that he declined to say whether league security personnel had reached out to Mr. Jacobs to determine what he may have told authorities.
Authorities have said Mr. Jacobs ran one of the largest steroid networks in the Southwest. According to court documents, one of Mr. Jacobs "biggest customers" was a middleman who sold more than $25,000 worth of steroids a month.
Mr. Jacobs' network was dismantled through Operation Raw Deal, the largest international crackdown on steroid distributors in U.S. history. It is a joint effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration's office of criminal investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
On the Web site for his now-defunct Supplement Outlet nutrition store in Plano, Mr. Jacobs described himself as a "certified personal trainer" who "offers guidance to many top athletes across the United States," including "Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons football players."
Federal prosecutors are looking at bank records, correspondence and other evidence analyzing what investigators believe could outline transactions involving anabolic steroids and human growth hormone between Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Lehr.
It is not clear what evidence federal investigators have about whether any other players received steroids or banned hormones from Mr. Jacobs' network, although sources stress that the case is ongoing.
A source familiar with the goings-on at Mr. Jacobs' Plano house said Mr. Lehr was a frequent visitor.
Failed drug test
Mr. Lehr, who stands 6-2 and weighs a little more than 300 pounds, was drafted out of Virginia Tech by the Cowboys in 2001. When he left Dallas in 2004, he was making about $628,000. The next year, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
He was suspended from the team in fall 2006 for failing a drug test – the league does not reveal the specific substance – and left the Falcons in March 2007. The next month, he signed with Tampa Bay. His base salary was $595,000 in Tampa last year.
Last month, he signed with New Orleans. Details of the contract are not available.
Local pro bodybuilder Branch Warren, who used to train with Mr. Jacobs, said he is friends with Mr. Lehr and does not believe the NFL player has ever done anything illegal.
"My understanding is, Mr. Lehr was suspended and he moved on with his life," said Mr. Warren, who lives in Tarrant County. "Matt made a mistake, and he admitted to it. He's a good guy.
"He's an NFL player. Why would he sell drugs, someone who makes that kind of money?"
Mr. Warren said that although he does not condone steroid use, he believes it is pervasive in professional sports.
"I don't think that anybody cared until the media and the Congress got hold of it," Mr. Warren said. "I think the general public just wants to see people throw a faster pitch and score more home runs.
"I'm not condoning it, I don't think it's right. I'm just saying that in reality, I think they've proven that steroids are prevalent in all sports."
Posted 08 April 2008 - 08:26 AM
Why doesn't that surprise me?
Posted 08 April 2008 - 09:25 AM
Posted 08 April 2008 - 09:44 AM
Posted 08 April 2008 - 09:46 AM
Why doesn't that surprise me?
Let me do you one better
The league suspended Atlanta Falcons guard Matt Lehr for four games for a violation of the steroids policy.
No surprise here .....
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds - Albert Einstein
Posted 08 April 2008 - 10:47 AM
Posted 08 April 2008 - 10:52 AM
Posted 08 April 2008 - 10:54 AM
Need to change the battery in your sarcasm meter.
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