A former Philadelphia police detective pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he ran a network that sold steroids and human growth hormone to individuals and in fitness clubs around Philadelphia.
In a hearing in federal court, Keith Gidelson, 36, admitted selling thousands of injections and pills from his Northeast Philadelphia home. He faces nearly three years in prison when he is sentenced in January by U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond.
Gidelson was still on the city payroll but out on disability leave in August 2010 when a confidential source told authorities the detective was selling steroids, Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Axelrod told the judge.
In the ensuing months, investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Postal Service launched surveillance, tapped his cell phone and monitored his mail.
They discovered Gidelson was receiving shipments from Europe and China, then reselling the drugs to individual users he met online and in and around fitness centers. It was unclear when the operation started, Axelrod said, but it had become a chief source of income for Gidelson.
In April 2011, agents intercepted two shipments to Gidelson that held thousands of injections and pills. Weeks later, a grand jury later indicted Gidelson, his wife, Kirsten, and 13 others on conspiracy and drug charges.
The defendants included two other police officers, Joseph McIntyre and George Sambuca, who were accused of buying and reselling the drugs. Like Gidelson, they have since been dismissed from the force.
The former officers and Gidelson’s wife have already pleaded guilty and await sentencing, as have all but one other defendant.
Gidelson declined an invitation by the judge to explain his crime, but said he would do so when he is sentenced.
His lawyer, Nino V. Tinari, said after the hearing that a serious on-the-job car crash in 2006 had derailed Gidelson’s police career, led to an an addiction to painkillers and, ultimately, his slide into drug sales.