As the FBI continues its investigation into whether Roger Clemens committed perjury at a congressional hearing a year ago, the federal government yesterday sent a clear message to The Rocket through another major-leaguer.
Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada, facing up to a year in jail and possible deportation if a jury decided he lied to congressional staffers about the use steroids in baseball, instead agreed to the government's offer of a plea bargain, becoming the first high-profile player convicted of a crime stemming from baseball's steroids era.
Just before noon yesterday in courtroom 7 at U.S. District Court here, an obviously nervous Tejada officially entered his guilty plea. Sentencing will be March 26 and Tejada is expected to receive probation as opposed to jail in light of the plea deal.
Magistrate judge Alan Kay told Tejada that a pre-sentencing investigation will guide him in imposing his sentence.
At a news conference at Minute Maid Park in Houston last night, Tejada fought back tears as he told reporters, "I just want to apologize ... I made a mistake and now I know how serious a mistake I made. I take responsibility and I'm very sorry for what happened."
Tejada admitted in court yesterday that he lied to congressional staffers in August 2005 when they asked if he had conversations with players about performance-enhancing drugs. He claimed that he did not.
In the December 2007 Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball, Oakland outfielder Adam Piatt is cited saying he discussed steroid use with Tejada and provided Tejada with testosterone and HGH. Tejada admitted to buying human growth hormone.
Assistant U.S. attorney Daniel Butler said in court that Tejada was not charged with using performance-enhancing drugs because they did not have evidence that he did so. Butler said Tejada told them he had "second thoughts" after receiving the drugs and threw them away.
Tejada's case is bad news for Clemens because Tejada's untruthful statement was only about whether he had conversations with teammates about steroids. Tejada also was not under oath at the time he made those statements, though lying to congressional investigators is a misdemeanor.
Clemens is being investigating for denying the use of performance-enhancing drugs while under oath before a congressional hearing last February.
One of Clemens' most ardent supporters was Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), then the committee's minority leader. Now retired, Davis was quoted in yesterday's USA Today saying Clemens should "cut your losses." He added, "Frankly, I think we'll see charges in the Clemens case and they will come around pretty quickly. Lying under oath is serious. It's not like A-Rod lying to Katie Couric in an interview. When you're under oath, you have to tell the truth."
Barry Bonds also is facing perjury and obstruction of justice charges in a case that begins March 2 in San Francisco. The government contends Bonds lied under oath when he testified in 2003 that he had not knowingly taken performance-enhancing drugs.
Tejeda, who is from the Dominican Republic, was informed through his attorneys by federal prosecutors that he could face deportation.