Probation for Mary Anne Catalano?

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Federal prosecutors are seeking probation, not prison, for a Canadian sports doctor's assistant whose arrest ultimately led to her employer's conviction for bringing unapproved drugs into the United States to treat professional athletes.

Mary Anne Catalano, 33, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in federal court in Buffalo for lying to border agents about medical supplies she was transporting for Dr. Anthony Galea, a Toronto healing specialist who has treated golfer Tiger Woods and other big-name athletes.

In court filings, prosecutors have asked the judge to depart from sentencing guidelines and give Catalano probation because what she told them after her arrest helped them bring felony charges against her boss. The charge she pleaded guilty to, making false statements to federal officers, carries a potential 6- to 12-month prison term.

"The cooperation of Mary Anne Catalano was a significant and substantial factor in obtaining a felony conviction against Dr. Anthony Galea," the U.S. Attorney's Office wrote in requesting a probation sentence.

Catalano's attorney, Rodney Personius, said Thursday he agrees with the government's recommendation for a more lenient sentence for Catalano, a certified athletic therapist who now works for another Toronto doctor.

Catalano had worked in Galea's office when she was 15, stayed in contact with him through college and went back to work for him at the Institute of Sports Medicine Health and Wellness when she graduated in 2004, Personius said in his sentencing memo to the court. As Galea developed a practice involving professional athletes in the United States, Catalano began accompanying him on trips across the border. She began driving separately and took on the responsibility of transporting the medical equipment and supplies after Galea had trouble with border agents leaving Canada, the filing said.

She and Galea agreed that if asked by border officers about the supplies, she'd say they were for demonstration purposes at a medical conference.

After being stopped for inspection at the Peace Bridge while entering Buffalo on Sept. 14, 2009, Catalano initially said the supplies were for a conference in Washington, D.C, but later told the truth, authorities said: that she was headed to meet Galea in Washington to treat a professional athlete.

"Given the duration of the defendant's relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, dating back to her teenage years, it would be ... fair to find he improperly took advantage of her dogged loyalty," Personius wrote. "Simply, she held Dr. Galea in the very highest regard."

"These circumstances notwithstanding, Mary Anne Catalano takes full responsibility for her crime of conviction," he wrote.

The judge is not obligated to accept the government's recommendation for a lighter sentence.

Galea pleaded guilty July 6 to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, one of five charges in an indictment. He faces similar charges in Canada.

As part of his U.S. plea agreement, Galea must cooperate with investigators in the future. Prosecutors said they would recommend a sentence of 12 to 18 months in prison when he is sentenced in October.

Galea admitted that he traveled to the U.S. numerous times from 2007 to 2009 to treat professional athletes in Hawaii, Cleveland, New York City, Miami and elsewhere, despite not being licensed to practice in the country. Some of the treatments involved injections of human growth hormone, banned by major sports, and Actovegin, a derivative of calf's blood not approved for use in the United States.

Prosecutors have not publicly disclosed the names of athletes who may have gotten HGH.