Steroid Dealer Gets Probation for Helping Feds Catch Steroid Users

Kirk Radomski, steroid dealer to professional baseball players, avoided jail time when he received 5 years probation. He pleaded guilty to distributing anabolic steroids and money laundering charges in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. He cooperated closely with federal prosecutors, particularly with investigators involved with the Mitchell Report, in naming almost 30 current and former MLB baseball players to whom he sold performancing-enhancing drugs including anabolic steroids and growth hormone.

The customary practice for federal prosecutors is to prosecute dealers rather than users. In a reversal of this practice, Radomski was given leniency in exchange for his testimony against his clients (individual steroid users who happened to be professional athletes).

Frank Bowman, a former prosecutor and current law professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, justifies this approach:

Federal prosecutors customarily prosecute dealers rather than users primarily because dealers are considered more culpable. Dealers are the rich, bad-guy beneficiaries of others’ weaknesses, while users are destitute victims or inconsequential saps. Dealers affect many people. Users affect only themselves.

The hierarchy of the performance-enhancing drug market for professional athletes is exactly the reverse. The balance of power, money, and culpability lies with the players in their relationships with guys like Roger Clemens’ trainer Brian McNamee or former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. McNamee’s and Radomski’s continued employment in and around the major leagues depended on the favor of players, particularly stars. The nobody suppliers made a few thousand in pin money for supplying the juice. But the real financial gainers were the players: Drugs allowed them to cheat their way into the majors or to enhance and prolong careers worth millions of dollars. If relative culpability is to determine who is prosecuted and who is allowed to go free, it’s the players who should be indicted.

The other reason federal prosecutors ordinarily go after dealers, not users, is to have a greater effect on drug markets. But if one really wanted to stop the use of steroids in baseball, which is likely to be more effective—cooperation deals with a few locker room enablers, or the spectacle of big leaguers in prison stripes rather than pinstripes?

The end result is the same for the government snitch as the Drug Law Blog points out:

[T]he person who flips on their colleagues and friends is richly rewarded in our criminal justice system.

Now, Kirk Radomski is free to exploit his steroid infamy and sign the million dollar book that he bragged would overshadow Jose Canseco’s Juiced.

In other news, a teenager is facing 20 years in prison for selling steroids.

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