- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Miguel Tejada, an All-Star who came to Baltimore to be the Orioles’ next great shortstop and fill a void left by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to charges he lied to Congress about other players’ steroid use in the Major Leagues.

Tejada becomes the most recent and most prominent local player to face legal consequences as part of the steroid scandal that has cast a pall over baseball for much of this decade.

The charges were announced days after New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez admitted he used steroids during his time with the Texas Rangers earlier this decade. Next month, home-run king Barry Bonds is scheduled to go on trial on charges that he lied to a grand jury when he said he did not use performance-enhancing drugs. A grand jury in the District is still deciding whether pitcher Roger Clemens lied to Congress last year when he said he never used steroids or human growth hormone.

Tejada, who joined the Orioles in 2003 and traded to the Houston Astros four years later, was charged Tuesday with one count of misrepresentation to Congress, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

The filing of a criminal information and the scheduling of a plea hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington indicates Tejada intends to accept a plea agreement; it’s also a strong clue he intends to cooperate with investigators.

Prosecutors say Tejada lied to congressional investigators when he said he did not know of any players who used steroids and never had any conversations with other players about performance-enhancing drugs. He is not charged with taking performance-enhancing drugs and lying about it.

Tejada caught the interest of congressional investigators after retired slugger Rafael Palmeiro said he tested positive for steroids because of his former Orioles teammate. Palmeiro said he thought the test result was the result of a steroid-tainted supplement he received from Tejada.

A day after speaking with Palmeiro, congressional investigators interviewed Tejada. According to the criminal information, investigators asked Tejada whether he had ever heard other players speaking about steroids.

“No, I never heard,” Tejada is quoted in court documents as saying.

Later, investigators asked Tejada whether he knew of any players who used steroids.

“No,” he replied, according to court documents.

But those statements contradicted the findings of a 2007 report by former Sen. George Mitchell, which provided a sobering glimpse into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

According to the so-called “Mitchell Report,” former ballplayer Adam Piatt said he sold human growth hormone, also known as HGH, to Tejada in 2003 when both played for the Oakland Athletics. Mr. Mitchell’s investigators obtained a check for $3,100 and another for $3,200 that Tejada purportedly wrote to Piatt for the performance-enhancing drugs.

Piatt told investigators he did not know whether Tejada used HGH, but that he did discuss his own steroid and HGH use with Tejada.

Tejada has long denied, including to congressional investigators, that he ever used performance-enhancing drugs.

His attorney did not return a phone message and an e-mail seeking comment. A news conference that Tejada and his attorney are expected to attend is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Houston.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Tejada came up in the Oakland Athletics system after signing with the franchise as an amateur in 1993, shortly before his 19th birthday - though at the time he was thought to be 17.

He joined the major league club late in the 1997 season and soon became a fixture in the lineup. In 2000, he started a consecutive-games-played streak that ended as the fifth-longest in history at 1,152. And in 2002, he won the American League Most Valuable Player award after hitting 34 homers and knocking in 131 runs for an upstart Oakland squad that won the American League West Division.

Tejada signed with the Orioles as a free agent after the 2003 season, a six-year, $72 million deal. He made the All-Star team in each of his first three seasons with the club before injuries sidelined him in 2007. The team traded him after that season to the Astros for a package of prospects.

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