Clemens’s Foundation Comes Under Scrutiny
Roger Clemens’s former trainer has told federal authorities investigating Clemens for perjury that Clemens’s nonprofit organization paid him for his training services, including the performance-enhancing drugs he said he provided Clemens, according to several people briefed on the investigation.
The trainer, Brian McNamee, told the authorities that payments were made from the Roger Clemens Foundation between 1998 and 2001, during which McNamee said he routinely injected Clemens with steroids, the people said.
Since 1998, the foundation, which was created in 1992 to aid children’s educational and athletic organizations, has raised more than a million dollars through public contributions, fund-raising events and auctions, according to federal tax documents.
McNamee said Clemens also paid him in cash and personal checks, the people said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing an active federal investigation.
Rusty Hardin, Clemens’s lawyer, who has led the campaign for the past two and a half years to discredit McNamee’s accusations that he provided Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs, said that McNamee had once again lied to federal authorities.
“Obviously, Roger never paid him for any drugs anytime and he never paid him out of the foundation for his training services at any time,” Hardin said. “The foundation’s records will show that.”
According to two of the people briefed on the investigation, McNamee tried to find cashed checks and other documents that backed up his accusations about his payments but could not produce them.
The statements from McNamee about his payments are merely accusations, similar to the ones he has made about Clemens’s drug use. And McNamee would be exposing himself to perjury charges if he were lying about the foundation payments. But his statements add a wrinkle to a case that has largely centered on whether Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs.
According to legal experts, McNamee’s accusations about the payments expose Clemens to felony charges beyond those about his drug use.
Marcus S. Owens, a tax lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale in Washington and the director of the I.R.S. division that oversaw nonprofit organizations from 1990 to 2000, said that Clemens could face civil and criminal charges if the authorities found evidence to back up McNamee’s accusations.
“On one hand, the I.R.S. could go back and ask him to pay significant taxes and penalties for the money that was used to pay for his personal expenses,” Owens said. “The authorities can bring felony criminal charges for misleading the I.R.S. because personal expenses were disguised and hidden in the foundation’s account.”
He added, “There is a much higher burden of proof for criminal charges, and the government would have to prove intent on Clemens’s behalf and prove it beyond reasonable doubt.”
Clemens has been under investigation for more than two years on suspicion of making false statements under oath before Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Barry Bonds, who was charged in November 2007 with lying under oath about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, had his finances scrutinized in connection with that investigation but was never charged.
Clemens’s foundation has grown substantially in recent years. The organization spent about $345,000 in the fiscal year ending in June 2008, compared with about $55,000 in the year ending June 1998, according to federal tax documents. In 2008, the foundation donated about $216,000 in cash and goods to organizations including the Ronald McDonald House and the University of Texas, where Clemens played. Federal documents dating from 1998 say nothing about payments to McNamee.
Clemens and his wife, Debbie, are listed as the sole trustees. Debbie Clemens’s mother, Janice Wilde, is the executive director but receives no pay, according to federal tax documents, which show that Hendricks Management, the company run by Clemens’s agents, has maintained the organization’s finances.
McNamee has been cooperating with the authorities since 2007, when he spoke with George J. Mitchell, who was leading an investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.McNamee told Mitchell of his connection with Clemens that on numerous occasions between 1998 and 2001 he provided Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs and injected him with the substances. In December 2007, Mitchell named Clemens and dozens of other players for their links to performance-enhancing drugs.
After Mitchell’s report was released, Clemens began an attack on McNamee that led to a Congressional hearing in which they contradicted each other. Within days, federal prosecutors in Washington opened a perjury investigation of Clemens.
Since then, McNamee has met with the authorities at least twice and testified last month before the grand jury investigating Clemens. Several other people — including Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, the former pitcher Jason Grimsley and the convicted steroids dealer Kirk Radomski — have met with the authorities investigating Clemens.
Hardin said that the authorities had not asked for information relating to the foundation.
“I am not going to get into it with you about what they have and have not asked for,” he said. “I have said that I want to leave them free to do their investigation.”
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and KATIE THOMAS
June 13, 2010