A federal grand jury today returned sealed indictments charging seven people with 165 narcotics counts, the Justice Department said.
The indictments came from the grand jury that, since March 1984, has been investigating drug sales to major league baseball players, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, KDKA-TV and WPXI-TV.
J. Alan Johnson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, refused to say whether the indictments came from the baseball grand jury. Johnson also refused to identify those indicted, but he implied arrests would be made by Friday.
Johnson said the indictments were returned to U.S. Magistrate Robert Mitchell late in the day. Mitchell was to issue bench warrants and Johnson indicated the arrests could be made Friday.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for Curtis Strong, 38, who catered food for the Philadelphia Phillies early this season, said Strong "is definitely charged" in the drug investigation and would surrender to federal authorities Friday in Philadelphia.
"I just talked to the U.S. attorney. The bottom line is that I'm surrendering my guy to the FBI . . . " Adam O. Renfroe Jr., the attorney, said in a telephone interview from his Philadelphia office.
"I haven't seen the indictment," Renfroe continued. "I believe the allegation is being a conduit or a conspirator for some kind of narcotics, to wit cocaine . . . He is definitely charged. He will be exonerated."
Renfroe said his client is being made a "scapegoat" by ballplayers trying to protect themselves. "To save their own hides, someone has identified my client as having distributed contraband to them."
Phillies spokesman Larry Shenk said Strong catered the Phillies' first five home games this season before being dismissed because he was too expensive. Strong was recommended to the team by former Phillie Al Holland, who was traded in April to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Holland testified before the grand jury on April 22.
Sam Reich, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represented five ballplayers who testified before the grand jury, said, "I don't expect that any of my clients are going to be named as defendants."
Reich said he represented Holland; Lee Lacy of the Baltimore Orioles, formerly of the Pirates; Enos Cabell of the Houston Astros, Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos and Jeff Leonard of the San Francisco Giants.
Six other players are known to have testified: Rod Scurry and Lee Mazzilli of the Pirates; Dale Berra of the New York Yankees and formerly of the Pirates; Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets; Lonnie Smith of the Kansas City Royals, and another former Pirate, Dave Parker, now with the Cincinnati Reds.
Reich said the indictments were handed up late this afternoon to Mitchell, who issued bench warrants for the arrest of the seven charged. Mitchell was told by federal prosecutors that one person was charged on 111 counts of federal narcotics violations. Six of those indicted live in Pittsburgh and one lives in Philadelphia, it was reported.