Baseball star Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty this morning at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to charges that he lied to Congressional investigators about his knowledge of steroid use among his fellow players.
Flanked by his lawyers, Mark Tuohey and William Lawler of Vinson & Elkins, Tejada stood at the front of the courtroom as Magistrate Judge Alan Kay explained that the guilty plea could affect the Houston Astros shortstop's immigration status, and could land him as much as a year in prison. Prosecutors said that they were not looking to depart from the sentencing guidelines, which suggest a twelve-month maximum.
Yesterday, prosecutors unveiled charges that Tejada had "misdirected" Congressional investigators in 2005 when they interviewed him about the use of steroids by players on the Oakland Athletics, his team from 1997 to 2003. Tejada told investigators that he had never been aware of any of his teammates using steroids, and had never heard them discussing the topic. Those claims fell apart last year, when the Mitchell Report found that Tejada had not only talked about steroids with a teammate, but had purchased thousands of dollars worth of human growth hormone.
Prosecutors today said they did not have evidence to prove that Tejada had ever actually used steroids.
Tejada, a native of the Dominican Republic who uses a work visa to stay in the U.S., listened to the hearing through a Spanish translator, who spoke to him through a headset. His lawyers blamed the setup for the small amount of confusion that ensued when Judge Kay asked whether Tejada knew what kind of a sentence he faced. After Tejada answered "prison time," the judge asked if he knew how much. It took some conferring with the lawyers before Tejada managed to quietly add, "one year."
Tejada is free on bond. His sentencing date is set for March 26.