WASHINGTON — A lawyer for Roger Clemens highlighted inconsistencies between a government witness’ testimony and the man’s book Wednesday and accused him of lying about a shipping label addressed to Clemens’ house.
At issue was an old, torn label that witness Kirk Radomski testified was for a shipment of human growth hormone to Clemens’ home. Radomski testified he found the label under his bedroom TV in June 2008, although federal agents had failed to find it when they searched his home three years earlier.
Clemens’ lawyer, Michael Attanasio, read a section from Radomski’s book “Bases Loaded,” about selling steroids to pro baseball players, in which the former drug dealer wrote, “I’d obviously hidden it there when I began to worry that the government was going to come after me and had then forgotten about it.”
Asked about that Wednesday, Radomski insisted, “I didn’t hide nothing.”
Then what he wrote in the book was a lie, Attanasio countered.
“Did you ever write a book? Write a book!” Radomski retorted and held his book up. “See how they turn things.”
The label was addressed to Brian McNamee, Clemens’ former strength coach, at Clemens’ home address in Texas. Radomski said the shipment was for two kits of HGH — “about 50-100 needles” — and estimated it took place in 2002.
McNamee, who will testify later in the trial, has said he injected Clemens with HGH and steroids.
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is accused of lying to Congress when he denied using steroids and HGH. If prosecutors are able to convict him, it will be with the help of Radomski, a former ice cream truck driver who was a lowly batboy with the New York Mets when Clemens was in the prime of his career.
Also in his book, Radomski incorrectly wrote that the label he found said, “Brian McNamee, c/o Roger Clemens.” The label didn’t mention Clemens.
“That was a lie,” Attanasio said.
Radomski responded that it wasn’t a lie, because it he might have written Clemens’ name on the box underneath the label. When Attanasio suggested that part of the book was inaccurate, Radomski agreed: “That’s not correct in the book.”
Radomski, who provided performance-enhancing drugs to dozens of major league baseball players, had injected some much needed energy into a plodding prosecution case when he first took the stand Tuesday.
He got the jurors’ attention by standing, opening his suit coat and demonstrating on his broad-shouldered body how HGH and steroids are delivered. Even sitting, he leaned in, made eye contact and generally held court with the jurors in ways other witnesses have not.
Radomski talked so quickly in his New York accent that he had to be slowed down several times, both by the prosecutor and the court reporter. And he played up his street smarts over book smarts.
“You’re asking the wrong person to spell,” he quipped when asked to spell one of the many steroids he mentioned. When he botched the pronunciation of another word, he said: “Hey, I’m from the Bronx. I’m not a scholar.” He boldly suggested that U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton get an “orthopedic chair” to deal with recurring back problems. He knocked on the witness stand three times to describe the “knock at the door” when feds arrived to search his house in 2005.
Displaying New York chutzpah, Radomski testified that he had taken steroids and HGH for 15 years, and then proudly declared, “I don’t drink, and I don’t do any drugs.”
“I’m a health nut,” he added. “I take care of my body.”
Radomski cooperated with investigators and pleaded guilty to money laundering and distribution of a controlled substance in 2007. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and fined $18,000. He said he’s started his own supplement company, including “a fat burner and a natural testosterone builder.”
The pace of the trial quickened Tuesday afternoon, just hours after the judge had scolded both sides for dragging out the trial and told them they were making it too “boring” for jurors, who were getting “fed up.”
Radomski described how he started taking steroids himself as a teenager around 1990 because he wanted to bulk up his small frame. He then became a seller, first of steroids and then HGH, and met McNamee through a ballplayer they both knew.
Radomski said baseball players, and especially pitchers, didn’t want to build muscle from steroids, but instead wanted to build endurance. That could help neutralize one of the defense’s main arguments, that Clemens’ body didn’t change that much from the beginning to the end of his 24-season career.
Meanwhile, in a written response filed Wednesday morning, prosecutors opposed Clemens’ attempt to strike the testimony of former teammate Andy Pettitte. Last week, Pettitte testified that Clemens told him he had tried human growth hormone, only to say under cross-examination that he might have misunderstood Clemens. A defense motion on Monday had argued that Pettitte’s testimony had “all the weight of a coin flip” and asked that the jury be instructed not to consider the conversation between the two pitchers. The government responded that the jury must be allowed — “if it desires” — to credit Pettitte’s initial testimony and “discount any cross-examination inconsistencies.”
Also Wednesday, Judge Walton dismissed a juror because he had been sleeping and showing up late for trial. During jury selection, the juror, an unemployed man in his 20s, said he’d rather be sleeping than be in court but promised to be “wide awake” if selected. The jury has four alternates.