Grand jury indicts doctor who helped top athletes
A Canadian doctor widely known for using unusual methods to help world-class athletes -- including golfer Tiger Woods -- recover from injuries, was indicted today on a variety of charges by a federal grand jury in Buffalo.
Anthony Galea, 51, of Toronto, faces charges including smuggling misbranded and unapproved drugs into the United States for the purpose of treating professional athletes, according to U.S. Attorney William Hochul. The drugs included human growth hormone (HGH) and other unapproved drugs.
The indictment also charges Galea with conspiracy fraud, and making false statements to officers and agents of the Department of Homeland Security in order to avoid detection and to sneak the substances into the country.
The indictment charges that from at least July 2007 through Sept. 14, 2009, Galea conspired to smuggle HGH, nutropin (a form of HGH) and actovegin (a derivative of calf's blood) into the United States from Canada. The indictment states that Galea performed medical services upon more than 20 professional athletes, even though he did not have a license to practice medicine in the United States.
"My office, along with our federal law enforcement partners, will not tolerate any attempts to either breach our nation's borders or to bring drugs that are not approved by the (Food and Drug Administration) into the United States," Hochul said in a statement. "There is a reason why the public expects the FDA to determine which substances can be safely used in this country. Misuse of certain substances can obviously be harmful, regardless of whether or not they are being administered by a medical professional."
Galea was charged after his former assistant, Mary Anne Catalano, was arrested at the Peace Bridge last September after federal agents found several banned substances in her car. She has admitted that she made false statements to officers at the bridge when she tried to enter Buffalo from Canada. She is considered the prime government witness in a case against her ex-boss.
Law enforcement authorities said investigators in Toronto last year seized detailed patient information and drugs during a raid of Galea's sports medicine clinic. They say his patients, in addition to Woods, have included at least 10 other prominent professional athletes, including players from the National Football League and Major League Baseball.
Galea also faces criminal charges in Canada for allegedly selling Actovegin, conspiracy to import an unapproved drug, conspiracy to export a drug and smuggling. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The indictment lists more than 70 border crossings by Galea, many of them at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo. It further alleges that once in the United States, Galea traveled to several major cities to provide medical services for the athlete/patients.
Conspiracy, unlawful possession with intent to distribute HGH and making false statements to federal officers and agents are each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce is three years and a $10,000 fine. A conviction for smuggling carries a maximum prison term of twenty years and a $250,000 fine.
October 14, 2010, 7:04 PM