Two people involved with a pharmacy that sold to patients of prominent local physician Richard A. Rydze pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to improperly sell steroids and other drugs.
William M. Sadowski, 46, of McKees Rocks, and John F. Gavin, 51, of Valencia are scheduled for sentencing Feb. 26. Mr. Sadowski ran, and Mr. Gavin worked for, Robinson-based ANEWrx, which sold anabolic steroids, testosterone and human growth hormone to patients of Dr. Rydze and others, according to court documents.
Prosecutors from Cleveland called Dr. Rydze, 62, of Downtown, "Physician 1" throughout the plea hearings. Dr. Rydze was one of the Steelers' doctors for two decades until 2007, when his relationship with the team ended following investigations of his bulk purchases of human growth hormone.
The events to which Mr. Sadowski and Mr. Gavin pleaded began in March 2007 and ended four years later.
Dr. Rydze has pleaded not guilty to a 185-count indictment for improperly prescribing steroids, growth hormone and narcotics.
In a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Mr. Sadowski and Mr. Gavin took responsibility for selling more than 40,000 doses of anabolic steroids.
Assistant U.S. attorney Matthew Kall, of the Northern District of Ohio, said that the now-defunct ANEWrx helped physicians and their patients to stack steroids, testosterone and human growth hormone for improper uses, including to slow the effects of aging, build muscle and enhance athletic performance.
Mr. Sadowski, Mr. Kall said, worked out with physicians premium pricing arrangements for their patients and kicked back part of the proceeds to the doctors. Mr. Gavin instructed patients in the use of the drugs and kept track of prosecutions of other steroid distributors.
Besides Dr. Rydze, ANEWrx worked with The Health and Rejuvenation Center, or THARC, and Palm Beach Life Extension, both of Florida; and took on clients from Applied Pharmacy in Mobile, Ala., when law enforcement moved against that business.
The pleas to one count each of distribution of controlled substances set up sentencings before U.S. District Judge Maurice B. Cohill. The maximum penalty for conspiring to improperly distribute the drugs is 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Sentencing guidelines suggest that Mr. Sadowski probably faces around three years in prison, and Mr. Gavin probably faces less than two years in prison. Mr. Gavin's attorney, Steve Stallings, said he will push for probation.
Mr. Gavin told Judge Cohill that he was "kind of apprehensive" about pleading guilty, but "just wanted to do things right."
Dr. Rydze's attorney, assistant federal public defender Marketa Sims, could not be reached for comment.
The prosecutions are being handled out of Cleveland because local law enforcement has a conflict of interest. Among Dr. Rydze's past clients is the local office of the FBI.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord.