BALCO founder Victor Conte pleaded guilty Friday to steroid distribution and money laundering in a deal with federal prosecutors, making it much less likely that top athletes such as Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Marion Jones will be forced to testify about alleged drug use.
Two other men charged with Conte also were expected to plead guilty Friday to reduced charges, a law enforcement source said on condition of anonymity. A fourth man, track coach Remi Korchemny, delayed accepting any plea agreement.
Conte, who founded the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, was charged with illegally distributing performance-enhancing drugs to more than 30 baseball, football and track and field stars. He faced a maximum of 20 years in prison for the money laundering charge and five years for the conspiracy charge.
"I agreed with others to distribute steroids," Conte said in court. "I knew at the time that steroid distribution was an unlawful activity."
According to a written statement from his attorney, Mary McNamara, Conte was going to ask the judge for four months imprisonment and four months of home detention as part of the deal.
"Mr. Conte has always accepted responsibility for the conduct reflected in this plea agreement and is looking forward to putting the case behind him," McNamara said on Friday.
Greg Anderson, Bonds' longtime friend and personal trainer, faced up to six months imprisonment as part of his plea agreement. Prosecutors agreed to drop dozens of counts against Conte and Anderson if they pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to distribute steroids and a single count of money laundering, the source said.
BALCO vice president James Valente was expected to plead guilty to one count of distributing illegal steroids and receive probation.
All four men appeared in court Friday before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.
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