Assistant to Toronto doctor pleads guilty in Buffalo
By Eileen Buckley
Buffalo, NY – The former assistant to Toronto doctor accused of treating athletes with human growth hormones pleaded guilty in a Buffalo federal courtroom Thursday afternoon.
32-year old Mary Anne Catalano accepted a plea deal admitting that she made false statements to border and immigration agents at the Peace Bridge last September as she attempted to enter Buffalo.
Catalano, also of Toronto, was the assistant to Dr. Anthony Galea. He faces criminal charges in Buffalo and Canada for drug smuggling and violating the food and drug act and conspiracy charges.
Galea is accused of allegedly smuggling and distributing steroids to prominent sports figures in major league baseball, such as New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and and golf star Tiger Woods. The drugs included human growth hormones including Nutropin
Catalano entered her plea agreement before U.S. Judge Richard Arcara. In the plea, Catalano admitted that she lied to agents when asked why she was trying to bring drugs,syringes and other medical equipment across the border.
Catalano told agents she was meeting Galea at a medical conference in Washington, D.C. She told them the medical items and drugs were for a display. But later, she admitted she was meeting with Galea to provide treatment to a professional athlete. Galea is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S.
WBFO News was in federal court as Catalano appeared. Judge Arcara asked her "why did you do this?".
"It's just, um, it was a lapse of judgment on my part, but he was my employer and someone I've known since I was 15 years old," said Catalano.
Then Catalano began to cry, and fighting back the tears continued to tell the judge she didn't think the doctor would put her in that position.
Catalano will be sentenced October 14th. She could face up to five years in prison. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Campana told reporters the government might ask the judge for a shorter sentence, perhaps even probation, because she was willing to cooperate in the investigation.
U.S. Attorney William Hochul could not discuss what famous sporting figures are involved in the case.
"In this particular case, the athletes would be considered our witnesses," said Hochul.
The investigation into the case continues.