Former Doctor Pleads Guilty to Illegally Prescribing Steroids

A former doctor will plead guilty to illegally prescribing anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to patients she never met or examined, her lawyer said Monday.

Ana Maria Santi reached an agreement with prosecutors and plans to plead guilty June 1 to 29 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy and illegal drug distribution in federal court in Providence, said her attorney, Edward C. Roy.

"It's in her best interests," Roy said.

Prosecutors say Santi and other doctors were enlisted by Daniel McGlone, the president of New Jersey-based American Pharmaceutical Group, to write prescriptions for bodybuilders and other customers from April 2004 until August 2006.

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Santi, who was stripped of her New York medical license in 1999, forged the signature of a doctor living in a California nursing home on the prescriptions she wrote, prosecutors said. She is suspected of earning $25 for each prescription.

The plea agreement says Santi wrote prescriptions on behalf of at least three companies besides American Pharmaceutical Group.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend a reduced sentence for Santi, but Roy said he did not know what that would be. Santi also is awaiting sentencing in New York in a state case involving similar allegations.

The maximum prison sentence for all 29 counts is 155 years.

Tom Connell, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Rhode Island, declined to comment on the plea agreement.

McGlone is charged with advertising steroids and human growth hormone to bodybuilders and other customers and then paying doctors to write medically unnecessary prescriptions. He has pleaded not guilty.

Another doctor, Victor Mariani, pleaded guilty in March for his role.

Prosecutors say that once McGlone received the prescriptions from Santi and Mariani, he would send them to be filled by other pharmacies, including Orlando, Fla.-based Signature Pharmacy.

While Signature Pharmacy is not charged in the Rhode Island case, two of its owners have been indicted in a case brought by prosecutors in Albany, N.Y.

Linked to that case, in various reports, are a number of sports stars, including baseball's Gary Matthews Jr., former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and 1996 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kurt Angle.

The use or distribution of human growth hormone is restricted under federal law to specified medical uses, such as wasting disease associated with AIDS. It is not approved for bodybuilding or weight-loss treatments.

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