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Stephen Kaus

Stephen Kaus

Posted: February 15, 2007 01:46 AM

BALCO Reporters Properly Out of Jeopardy, But Justice Department Has Fought the Wrong War


Sacramento attorney Troy Ellerman has agreed to plead guilty to leaking the BALCO grand jury transcript to San Francisco Chronicle writers Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada. His plea bargain allows a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The Justice Department trumpeted this triumph in a press release and said that if the judge accepts the plea bargain, it will cease its attempt to jail Williams and Fainaru-Wada for not revealing their sources.

The Justice Department's pursuit of Williams and Fainaru-Wada, personally approved by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has been wrong from the start and I am happy that they no longer face the threat of incarceration. Williams and Fainaru-Wada's work, and derivatively Ellerman's misconduct, led to the congressional hearings into steroid use in baseball, which it turn shamed baseball's otherwise shameless union into agreeing to a tougher drug testing scheme. I am not here to talk about the past, but the leak of testimony from the BALCO grand jury seems to have all worked out pretty well.

So where do we stand? Victor Conte, certifiable bad guy, who supplied steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to baseball's star players, received a four-month sentence. The Justice Department insisted that Ellerman agree to a sentence of up to two years.

Job well done by the feds, don't you think? They can fight the wrong war both at home and abroad. At least we don't need to look far for proof that the press sometimes can accomplish what the prosecutors cannot.

(spelling corrected, thanks)

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