SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -Federal prosecutors said Monday they did not give baseball steroids investigator George Mitchell a complete copy of an affidavit containing names of players who allegedly received performance-enhancing drugs from a former New York Mets clubhouse employee.
Prosecutors urged a judge to keep under seal the names of the players identified in a sworn statement signed by IRS Special Agent Jeff Novitzky.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco said a motion by Hearst Corp. seeking unredacted copies of the search warrant affidavit is a ``thinly veiled attempt to benefit financially'' by publicizing the names of people involved in the government's steroid probe and does not serve a public need.
The government also argued that most of the facts concerning the government's investigation of former Mets employee Kirk Radomski were publicly disclosed after he pleaded guilty in April to felony charges of distributing steroids and laundering money. In the filing, made in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, N.Y., prosecutors said disclosing the names would harm an ongoing investigation of steroid use in sports.
``At its core, this is a choice between the government's articulated legitimate investigative need versus (Hearst's) pecuniary interest in selling newspapers,'' according to the filing.
The San Francisco Chronicle and the Times Union of Albany, both Hearst-owned newspapers, asked a federal judge in June to make public the 2005 sworn statement by Novitzky. The government said 36 current and former players were supplied drugs by Radomski, but their names were blacked out in the document. Hearst argued that the names should be made public.
Federal prosecutors said Radomski agreed to cooperate with Mitchell as part of his guilty plea.
``The government's decision struck a balance that advances to societal interests in exposing the insidious subculture surrounding the steroid world while at the same time preserving the integrity of its investigations,'' prosecutors wrote. ``Public disclosure would likely harm both the government's investigation and the Mitchell Commission's ability to use the information provided by Mr. Radomski.''
Separately, The Associated Press asked a federal judge in Phoenix last month to make public another blacked-out affidavit from Novitzky that includes the names of baseball players Novitzky said were implicated in drug use by former major league pitcher Jason Grimsley.
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