Ex-Employee Pleads Guilty In Steroid Probe

Wednesday, March 28th 2007, 8:37 pm
By: News On 6

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A Florida man admitted selling illicit prescription drugs Wednesday and agreed to help Albany prosecutors pursue a multistate investigation into the illegal sale of steroids and human growth hormone.

Aaron J. Peterson, 30, of Delray Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty to criminal diversion of prescription medication. Under a plea agreement, Peterson will be sentenced May 16 to five years' probation and pay $320 in fees for the single reduced felony charge, Albany County Court Judge Stephen Herrick said.

Another 18 defendants _ most from Florida and New York _ have pleaded not guilty.

Linked to the scandal, in various reports, are baseball's Jose Canseco, John Rocker, Jerry Hairston Jr. and David Bell, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, Pittsburgh Steelers doctor Richard Rydze, 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle, bodybuilder Victor Martinez and professional wrestlers Randy Orton, Adam Copeland and Shane Helms.

In mid-March, Albany County district attorney David Soares said he planned to forward the names of athletes linked to the inquiry to pro sports leagues. Albany authorities declined to disclose how many athletes have come up in the probe and which sports leagues will get letters.

Soares repeatedly has said he's targeting distributors supplying illicit drugs and physicians writing prescriptions for patients they've never seen, not customers.

Peterson obtained physician signatures for drugs, mostly steroids, for clients of the Delray Beach, Fla.-based Oasis Longevity and Rejuvenation, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Baynes said.

``He was basically the guy working the phones and managing the office,'' Baynes said.

When asked in court whether Oasis president Elaine Sorrells approved of what he was doing, Peterson said she did. He also acknowledged that for $10,000, Signature Pharmacy sold him access to a doctor who wrote prescriptions when Oasis was without one.

Peterson admitted selling prescriptions last November signed by an undercover investigator in Albany posing as a physician.

Peterson and his attorney declined to comment afterward.

Sorrells and five owners and employees of Signature, based in Orlando, Fla., have pleaded not guilty to drug charges. All are free on bail.

``Like any case you take the lower-rung defendants and build toward a larger target,'' Baynes said.

Last week, Ana Santi, 68, a former physician from Queens, pleaded guilty to a single felony count. She was accused of writing prescriptions for Oasis.

In New York, it's illegal for a doctor to prescribe drugs without examining the patient in person, and illegal for a pharmacy to dispense prescription drugs without a valid prescription.