March 19, 2009

The United States Attorney's office has recommended that Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada receive a sentence of probation for lying to congressional investigators in 2005, according to a memorandum filed on Thursday in Washington, D.C., federal court. The filing, which also calls for Tejada to pay a fine and participate in youth-based community service, is a suggested sentencing -- not a binding one -- for Washington magistrate judge Alan Kay.

Kay will issue Tejada's punishment next Thursday, when the 34-year-old shortstop is due back in court. Tejada pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor charge that he made "misrepresentations to Congress" when he told congressional aides at a Baltimore hotel on Aug. 26, 2005, that he was unaware of steroid use by other players. The aides interviewed Tejada as part of perjury investigation of Tejada's former Baltimore Orioles teammate, Rafael Palmeiro.

Earlier that year Palmeiro, who had testified under oath and in front of Congress that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs, tested positive for the steroid Stanozolol. Palmeiro told a House committee on Aug. 25 that the positive test may have resulted from a steroid-tainted B-12 injection he received from Tejada. The next day, a congressional aide asked the shortstop, "You never knew of any other player using steroids?" "No," Tejada replied.

By Nov. '05 Congress had dropped the perjury investigation against Palmeiro, citing insufficient evidence. But by Jan. '08, one month after the release of the Mitchell Report, Tejada himself was under investigation. Former Oakland A's teammate Adam Piatt told Mitchell investigators that he and Tejada had discussed using steroids and HGH. Piatt also provided two checks from Tejada that he said were for the purchase of HGH. (Tejada later said that he did purchase performance-enhancing drugs but discarded them without ever using them.)

Tejada struck a plea agreement with the U.S. attorney's office last month, pleading to the misdemeanor offense. Hours after his guilty plea last month, Tejada fought back tears at a press conference in Houston where he said, "I made a mistake and now I know how serious of a mistake I made for not answering a question about another teammate." He then apologized "to the whole United States, because this country gave me the opportunity to be who I am and the last thing I want to do is let this country down."

With Thursday's sentencing recommendations, it appears that the federal government is willing to give Tejada another chance. "Defendant has expressed appropriate remorse," the filing says, "[he] appears to have learned a difficult and important life lesson."

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