A British weightlifter charged with smuggling strength-enhancing anabo
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A British weightlifter charged with smuggling strength-enhancing anabolic steroids into the United States from Mexico pleaded guilty Tuesday to jumping bail after he failed to appear for a scheduled sentencing.
Richard Anthony Fitton, 36, a resident alien who lives in Auburn, Calif., entered his plea before U.S. District Judge William Enright. He was being held without bail pending a Dec. 2 sentencing.
Fitton was first arrested last November at the Tecate Port of Entry and charged with conspiring to import steroids, making false statements to a U.S. Customs agent and importing steroids. He pleaded guilty to the charges in February and was to be sentenced March 25, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Halpern.
Steroids are not a controlled substance in the United States, but their import is illegal. The hormones are suspected of causing liver damage, heart disease and other physiological disorders in frequent users.
Halpern said Fitton was a big-time pusher of steroids to U.S. athletes and one of the largest steroid dealers in the U.S. black market.
Fitton failed to appear at his sentencing and remained a fugitive until his arrest in August in Albuquerque, N.M. When he was arrested, authorities said Fitton was carrying a false passport, false identification documents and a fraudulent document-making stamp. Halpern said authorities believed Fitton was preparing to flee the country.
In addition to pleading guilty to bail jumping Tuesday, Fitton also pleaded guilty to possession of the document-making items. Halpern said another guilty plea to failing to file federal income tax returns in 1983 was accepted by the court but must also be accepted by the Department of Justice in Washington before Fitton can be sentenced for it.
According to Halpern, the charges against Fitton carry a combined penalty of up to 26 years in prison and $550,000 in fines.