MOBILE, Ala. — James A. Abernathy was the first of a group of a dozen people indicted here on steroids conspiracy charges to admit his guilt. On Thursday, he became the last to be sentenced.
U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade sentenced the Colorado Springs, Colo., man to a year and a day in prison. That was three months less than he would have gotten under advisory sentencing guidelines.
The judge agreed to a prosecution recommendation of leniency as a reward for Abernathy's early cooperation. But she rejected defense pleas for probation.
Abernathy, 56, ran an anti-aging clinic in Colorado and worked with a South Carolina doctor in 2005 to provide customers with prescriptions for anabolic steroids. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell 4,834 dosage units and conspiracy to launder money. He also forfeited $5,000.
Abernathy, who now owns a flower shop, told Granade on Thursday that his original interest was in helping patients with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He said he later learned about efforts to slow the aging process in Las Vegas.
"I found myself getting in over my head," he said. "I was in over my head before I even realized what was happening."
Abernathy's lawyer, Frank Ragen, said his client has never been in legal trouble before and spent his life as a productive member of society.
A psychotherapist by training, Abernathy ran for the city council in Flint, Mich., when he was 24 and set up Rap-Line, an anti-drug hotline in Houston that tried to dissuade high school athletes from using a variety of drugs - including steroids.
"Ironically, it dealt with some of the same substances and abuses that are the subject of the indictment here," Ragen said.
Abernathy played a small part of a larger steroids network centered in Mobile at a compounding pharmacy near Bel Air Mall called Applied Pharmacy Services.
Abernathy and a doctor pleaded guilty before the federal trial in January. Granade dismissed charges against another after hearing testimony. The jury acquitted four defendants and convicted the other five, including three of Applied Pharmacy's owners, its chief pharmacist and a health clinic owner who marketed steroids.
In addition, several doctors previously pleaded guilty in connection with the conspiracy. http://blog.al.com/live/2010/11/first_defendant_to_plead_guilt.html