NY plea hearing set for Canadian sports doctor

Posted July 01, 2011, at 5:57 p.m.
Last modified July 01, 2011, at 6:41 p.m.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A high-profile Canadian sports doctor charged last year with smuggling unapproved drugs into the United States to treat professional athletes is due in federal court in Buffalo next week for a hearing on a possible plea agreement.

Dr. Anthony Galea is scheduled before U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara on Wednesday. The court docket lists the proceeding as an arraignment and plea agreement hearing.

Calls to Galea’s attorneys and prosecutors weren’t immediately returned Friday.

The Toronto doctor was indicted by a federal grand jury in October, but has not yet entered a plea. The five-count indictment alleges he smuggled in human growth hormone and other substances and conspired and lied to border agents to avoid getting caught. He faces similar charges in Canada.

Galea, who is not authorized to work in the United States, is accused of treating 20 professional athletes at their homes, hotels and friends’ houses from October 2007 to September 2009, including giving them free Viagra if they asked.

The indictment did not identify any clients, which prosecutors said included professional baseball and football players and others. A plea deal would eliminate the need for a trial, along with the likelihood that evidence and witness statements could publicly reveal information about who he visited or billed.

Tiger Woods has said he’s been treated by Galea, but did not receive performance-enhancing drugs. The New York Mets’ Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran also have acknowledged talking to federal authorities during the investigation. The New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez told Major League Baseball officials that he didn’t receive performance-enhancing drugs from Galea after the doctor told The A ssociated Press he had prescribed anti-inflammatories for him.

The government alleged some athletes received injections of HGH, banned by major sports, and Actovegin, a derivative of calf’s blood not approved for use in the United States, as well as intravenous Actovegin drips and platelet-rich plasma therapy, a treatment used to speed healing that involves extracting blood from patients and re-injecting just the plasma.

Authorities began investigating Galea after the arrest of his assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, as she entered the United States at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo in September 2009. She is scheduled to be sentenced later this month after pleading guilty to a single count of lying to border agents. As part of her plea, she’s been cooperating in the investigation.

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