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Judge throws out indictment against Signature Compounding Pharmacy

10 years, 2 months ago

1312  0
Posted on Sep 18, 2008, 1 p.m. By Donna Sorbello

A judge tossed out the indictment against the operators of Signature Compounding Pharmacy Thursday, a sharp rebuke to the two-year, multistate steroid investigation led by Albany County District Attorney David Soares that linked a number of athletes to performance-enhancing drugs.

A judge tossed out the indictment against the operators of Signature Compounding Pharmacy Thursday, a sharp rebuke to the two-year, multistate steroid investigation led by Albany County District Attorney David Soares that linked a number of athletes to performance-enhancing drugs.

Albany County Judge Stephen W. Herrick barred prosecutors from bringing the case against the operators of the Orlando, Fla., pharmacy - Signature chief executive officer Naomi Loomis, chief operating officer Stan Loomis, pharmacist Michael Loomis, marketing director Kirk Calvert and manager Anthony Palladino - to a new grand jury.

Herrick's ruling does not affect the numerous athletes who were identified as customers of a performance-enhancing drug ring that Soares said was anchored by the pharmacy, because the athletes were not targets of prosecution. Those athletes include Rick Ankiel of the St. Louis Cardinals, who, as the Daily News first reported, purchased eight shipments of human growth hormone from Signature in 2004. Other athletes linked to Signature include baseball players Paul Byrd and Gary Matthews Jr., New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison and boxer Evander Holyfield.

Soares had called the operators of Signature the primary targets of the illegal steroid investigation.

Herrick ripped prosecutors for the way they handled the case, saying the indictment and the instructions to the grand jury considering the case were confusing.

"The court finds that the amorphous quality of the evolving indictments, coupled with the cursory and inadequate instructions in the fourth presentment, have impaired the integrity of the grand jury proceedings to such a degree that dismissal is warranted," Herrick wrote.

Soares said in a statement that his office would appeal Herrick's decision. Although the criminal prosecution against his primary targets may be over, he said "Operation Which Doctor" was a success.

"As a result of the hard work by all agencies involved, we have been able to disrupt a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise trafficking illegal steroids to thousands of people across the country," Soares said.

Signature Pharmacy attorney Amy Tingley said her clients "are glad this is the end of this ordeal."

She said Soares "spent an uncountable number of taxpayer dollars to out professional athletes and instead damaged these people's reputations. Now they have to pick up the pieces and rebuild their company."

Seventeen doctors and wellness center executives have pleaded guilty to charges from Operation Which Doctor and many had agreed to testify against the operators of Signature. A defendant in the case, Anthony Forgione, pleaded guilty to felony drug charges Thursday.

Soares said the setback did not signal the end of his steroid investigation, which includes clinics that go beyond Signature. Two members of the Jamaican Olympic track team received shipments of performance-enhancers in 2006-07 from Florida anti-aging clinics, Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site last month; and ESPN.com reported Thursday that Ron Hornaday, the defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck series champion, had received shipments of testosterone and HGH from Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, from December 2004 to January 2006.

"My office will continue to investigate and prosecute large drug networks that flow through Albany County and destroy families' lives," Soares said.

RESOURCE/SOURCE: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2008/09/11/2008-09-11_judge_throws_out_indictment_against_sign.html on Friday, September 12, 2008.

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