Over the past few weeks, we have used this space to point out steroid busts that are occurring all over the country.Â Sadly, many of our kids do not realize that possession of steroids without a legitimate prescription from a medical doctor is against the law.Â Some see their favorite role models using this stuff and assume that it’s okay as long as they don’t get caughtÂ by the authoritiesÂ in some athletic competition.
State narcotics agents arrested 10 people Tuesday for their alleged involvement in the use, distribution and manufacture of steroids in the Dauphin, Cumberland, Lehigh and Northampton County areas.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said that the investigation, known as “Operation Roid Runner,” began in fall 2007 and revealed that, since 2004, the defendants were allegedly responsible for bringing more than $170,000 worth of steroids from China and Mexico into Pennsylvania.
“Like any illegal drug, steroids come with negative and dangerous physical effects,” Corbett said. “We need to do everything we can to make sure that the public, especially young men, are aware of the dangers of using steroids, and we need to take those who distribute this poison off our streets.”
Evidence and testimony about the alleged criminal activity was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed.
According to the grand jury, five of the defendants were obtaining and selling steroids in the Cumberland and Dauphin County areas. The defendants include two personal trainers, Stacy and Eric Garonzik, who are accused of injecting clients with liquid steroids in the office of their Lemoyne gym, Kinetics, which is now closed.
Corbett identified the other defendants in the Harrisburg area as Robert Greynolds, Joel France and Christopher Levan. Many of the steroid deliveries in the Harrisburg area took place near Gold’s Gym in Swatara Township.
According to the grand jury, as investigators followed the steroid supply to the Lehigh Valley, they discovered five other men, Marcus Lazaro, Chad Gillespie, John Sassaman, George Koufalis and Chris Niemczyk, all allegedly involved in distributing steroids.
According to the grand jury, the defendants were dealing steroids in both pill and liquid form.
Corbett said that the Garonziks, Lazaro and Gillespie allegedly obtained steroids by placing orders on the Internet to various individuals in China and Mexico. The international suppliers were paid via wire transfers.
According to the grand jury, a total of approximately $170,000 was sent overseas through wire transfers between January 2004 and January 2009. The investigation revealed that the senders used fictitious names and structured the wire payments, keeping the amounts wired below $1,000, to avoid detection by law enforcement.
Corbett said that because the steroid orders sometimes cost up to $9,000, Lazaro and Gillespie began to obtain bulk powder steroids.
According to the grand jury, Lazaro used the Internet to research how to make injectable steroids from powder form and, along with Gillspie, began to manufacture steroids, which they branded “Pro Lab,” at Lazaro’s residence in Freemansburg, Northampton County.
Corbett said that Sassaman and Koufalis, both bodybuilders, obtained “Pro Lab” steroids from Lazaro and Gillespie and sold them to other bodybuilders in order to pay for the expenses of bodybuilding competitions.
According to the grand jury, agents executed a search warrant on Lazaro’s residence in Freemansburg and seized more than 9 pounds of bulk steroids, numerous syringes, a 9mm firearm, nearly $8,900 and various items used in the manufacture of steroids such as filters, oils and alcohols.
Corbett said that during the investigation, agents seized a total of more than 700 bottles of steroids, 1,337 pills containing steroids, 9 pounds of bulk steroids, $28,000 and four other firearms.
The suspects have been released on $25,000 unsecured bail.
They will face preliminary hearings early next year and are facing 40 to 80 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.