Baseball Drug Probe Indictments Name 7 --No Players on List
A federal investigation of possible drug sales to major league baseball players has resulted in the indictment of seven men, none of them baseball players, on 165 narcotics counts.
Baseball was not even mentioned in the indictment, which was unsealed today after a 14-month grand jury probe.
More than a dozen major league ballplayers had testified before the grand jury since January--some under grants of immunity. There had been speculation that they might be named as unindicted co-conspirators.
Among those players who testified before the grand jury were Lee Mazzilli and Rod Scurry of the Pittsburgh Pirates; former Pirates Dale Berra, Dave Parker and Lee Lacy; Keith Hernandez of the New York Mets; Tim Raines of the Montreal Expos; Lonnie Smith of the Kansas City Royals; Enos Cabell of the Houston Astros, and Al Holland, a former Phillie now with the Pirates.
Former Caterer Named
Six of the men indicted were from Pittsburgh, including a bartender at a club frequented by players. One, a former caterer for the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse, was from Philadelphia.
The charges against them centered primarily on cocaine distribution.
Dale Martin Shiffman, 33, of Pittsburgh was charged with the most violations--111 counts, including 107 counts of distribution of cocaine in 1982 and 1983.
Curtis Strong, 38, of Philadelphia, the former Phillies caterer, was indicted on 16 counts of distribution of cocaine.
Other charged were Robert William McCue, 38; Jeffrey Lynn Mosco, 39, a bartender at Michael J’s Pub; Shelby Stephen Greer, 29; Kevin Michael Connolly, 27, and Thomas Patrick Balzer, 27.
Bail Hearings Scheduled
Arraignments were taking place throughout the day in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and bail hearings were scheduled later today.
Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth said in an interview on ABC’s “Nightline” that “I expect no baseball players to be indicted.” The commissioner’s office said it was preparing a statement on the indictment, but had no immediate comment.
The grand jury reportedly was looking into drug dealings as close to the clubhouse as the Three Rivers Stadium parking lot. And the lawyer for Strong, Adam Renfroe Jr., told a newspaper that he expected more indictments that probably would include players.
Strong, whose nickname is “Chef Curt,” said in a television interview that he is innocent of any charges and described himself merely as “a groupie . . . a baseball groupie.”
Renfroe said that Strong was accused of being “a conduit or a conspirator for some kind of narcotics, to wit cocaine . . . to this, I say hogwash. He will be exonerated.”
“To save their own hides, someone has identified my client as having distributed contraband to them,” Renfroe said. He described Strong as a “man of menial means” who has no criminal record.
Charged Too Much
Strong catered food for the Phillies’ first five home games this season, but was dismissed because he charged the team too much money, according to team spokesman Larry Shenk. Strong reportedly got the job due to his friendship with Holland, a former Phillies’ relief pitcher who was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates last month.
The grand jury inquiry has been directed by J. Alan Johnson, the 40-year-old U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania who has previously targeted drug dealers for prosecution.
Johnson, who has a “personal distaste” for drugs, according to a Justice Department official who requested anonymity, had steadfastly refused to acknowledge that a grand jury investigation was ongoing.