Former Balco attorney Ellerman sentenced to prison
By Julia Cheever
July 12, 2007
A federal judge in San Francisco today meted out a sentence
of two and one-half years in prison for a former defense attorney
who leaked secret grand jury transcripts in the BALCO sports steroid
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the action by Troy Ellerman,
44, and his lies about it "infected every aspect of the judicial
White rejected Ellerman's lawyer's argument that he should consider
President Bush's commutation last week of the same two-and-one-half-year
sentence for former vice presidential aide Lewis Libby for similar
The judge said the commutation was "not relevant to this
proceeding" because it was an executive and not a judicial
In addition, the judge said, President Bush's position was "not
consistent" with the stance taken by his Justice Department
in a Supreme Court case that held last month that federal sentencing
guidelines should be presumed to be reasonable.
Judge White, who was named to the court by Bush in 2002, said,
"Under President Bush's reasoning, every white collar defendant
should receive little or no jail time."
Ellerman, a former Sacramento lawyer who most recently worked
as a rodeo association commissioner in Colorado, pleaded guilty
in February to four counts of leaking grand jury testimony by
Barry Bonds and other athletes to two San Francisco Chronicle
reporters in 2004.
The four charges were two counts of contempt of court, one count
of filing a false declaration and one count of obstruction of
At the time, Ellerman represented Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative
(BALCO) Vice President James Valente, who later pleaded guilty
to giving anabolic steroids to professional athletes.
The 30-month sentence was within sentencing guidelines prescribing
between 27 and 33 months in prison for the four counts.
Last month, White rejected a plea agreement provision that would
have capped the sentence at two years in prison, saying that a
below-guidelines sentence was not acceptable in view of the seriousness
of the crimes.
Prosecution and defense attorneys then came up with a revised
agreement last week that set the maximum sentence at 33 months,
the high end of the guidelines. White accepted that plea deal
Defense attorney Scott Tedmon asked the judge for a sentence
of one year and three months, while prosecutor Michael Raphael,
an assistant U.S. attorney from Los Angeles, suggested two years.
Ellerman apologized for his acts and said, "I've messed
up. I'm here to own up to it."
Asked by the judge why he leaked the information, he said his
reasons were "unexamined" and denied that he had been
planning all along to turn the leaks to his client's advantage.
In addition to violating a judge's order to keep the transcripts
confidential, Ellerman later joined other lawyers in a motion
for dismissal of the charges against Valente and three other defendants
because of the leaks.
He told White today that by that time, he was caught up in the
lie. "I should have had the integrity to stand up to co-counsel,"
White didn't impose a fine, saying that Ellerman's family had
suffered enough, but ordered three years of supervised release
after Ellerman's prison term. He ordered Ellerman to do community
service during that time by giving 10 talks to students at California
law schools about his case and the ethical duties of a lawyer.
Ellerman was ordered to report to prison on Sept. 13. He has
given up his license to practice law and lost his rodeo commissioner
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