Monday, June 14, 2010
Catalano case pushed to June 24
By Mike Fish
A scheduled Friday court appearance for Mary Anne Catalano, a key witness in the federal smuggling and steroid distribution case against a prominent Canadian sports doctor, has been put off until later this month in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.
The doctor, Anthony Galea of Toronto, has been portrayed in federal documents as having crisscrossed the country last summer injecting U.S. professional athletes, among them NFL players, with human growth hormone and other substances. Galea, a go-to-doctor for injured elite athletes, surfaced as a key figure in a U.S.-Canadian smuggling investigation soon after Catalano, his executive assistant, was flagged at the Buffalo border crossing last September with a bagful of supplies, including HGH.
An attorney for Catalano has described her as cooperating fully with the federal probe.
"I think she has been cooperative from the get go and she has answered all the questions to best of her ability," Toronto-based attorney Calvin Barry told ESPN.com. "Obviously she worked with [Galea] and was his executive assistant, so she is trying to answer the questions being posed and also answering the questions when she was stopped at the border."
According to court documents, a hearing to consider a waiver of indictment and a plea has been rescheduled for June 24. Barry, however, noted the date could be extended again.
Catalano, a Canadian citizen, was initially charged with smuggling goods into the U.S. and later released on $10,000 bond.
Attorneys for Catalano have been attempting to negotiate a plea deal in turn for her assistance in the case. Barry said that Catalano will likely not be charged with smuggling, suggesting "it is going to be to a much lesser offense."
Catalano appears to be the government's lead witness against her former boss. During interviews with U.S. and Canadian authorities, according to court documents obtained by ESPN last month, Catalano identified 23 athletes whom she said Galea treated between last July 22 and when she was stopped at the border Sept. 14. Catalano said she frequently accompanied Galea and met with athletes in "hotel rooms and their homes" to provide various medical treatments.
Galea is not licensed to practice medicine in the United States, though he has gained notoriety in recent years for having treated well-known athletes such as Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods. In addition to the U.S. charges, Canadian authorities filed several charges against him last December, including selling an unapproved drug [Actovegin], smuggling goods into Canada and conspiracy to export drugs.
Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.