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Sammy Sosa will not be prosecuted for perjury. Not that this is news.

May 26, 2010, 12:15 PM EDT

The New York Times’ Michael S. Schmidt reports that the Congressional committee that Sammy Sosa testified before in 2005 — famously speaking in Spanish, rather than English — has decided not to charge Sammy Sosa with perjury despite the fact that he was later revealed to have tested positive for PEDs prior to his testimony.

A couple of things here:

1. I’m not quite sure how this is news. The hearing took place in March 2005. It is now May 2010. The statute of limitations for perjury is five years, so I’m struggling to see how charges could be filed even if they tried. I guess Schmidt is just trying to get back in steroids-writing practice in anticipating of the Roger Clemens business coming soon.

2. Even if the statute hadn’t run, it seems very clear to me that Sosa didn’t lie to the committee despite the fact that he apparently took PEDs of some kind before 2005.

As I wrote last year, it’s not true that Sosa denied taking steroids before Congress. He said
“To be clear, I have never taken illegal
performance-enhancing drugs.” He said “I have not broken the laws of
the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic.” He said “I
have been
tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean.” Those statements all allow for the possibility
that he used substances that were legal in the Dominican Republic that
would have been illegal to use in the United States, such as steroids or HGH.

We don’t know for sure, though, because neither the members of that Congressional committee nor the multiple lawyers they had on staff, sitting there in the room bothered to ask the basic sorts of
followup questions when faced with obvious qualifications like Sosa was offering. If they had pressed them on it — say, asked him whether he took PEDs, whether legally or illegally, in the United States or at home in the D.R. — he could have been in a serious jam.

But they didn’t. My theory as to why? They didn’t really care.  As is the case with every other bit of congressional involvement in steroids, the 2005 hearings were designed for P.R. purposes and to show voters that Congressman Whoever knew how to stick it to those cheating ballplayers who defied God, mugged Hank Aaron and pooped in Mom’s apple pie or whatever. It wasn’t a serious legal proceeding and never was meant to be.

Still, Roger Clemens could get charged with perjury sometime soon. But then again, he’s always done things more audaciously than anyone. Including, we may find out, lying.

  1. PatrickDC - May 26, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    As someone who is on The Hill almost everyday listening to way too many Congressional Hearings, you don’t need the steroids qualifier. It seems in almost every high profile hearing (BP, Toyota, Goldman Sachs, etc…) the members seem way more interested in getting their opinion and sound bytes out there and demonizing some random target (other than themselves, of course) then in actually trying to solve a problem.

  2. Joey B - May 26, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    ” it seems very clear to me that Sosa didn’t lie to the committee”
    Why is it vry clear to you?
    “I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean.”
    One could parse the language and claim that he was clean at the time of the testimony, but one could just as easily claim he was lying when he said he was clean. If you want to get into the rhetoric of what a lie is, fine.
    But if this was one of your kids testifying to you about who broke the window, then you would surely assume that your kid was lying to you. For example, if your child said he doesn’t throw rocks at windows, then you saw a video of him throwing the rock, and he then told you that his testimony only meant to include the day of the testimony, would you seriously excuse him from lying to you?
    No way, Craig, no way. Sosa lied to the committee. But since Clemens makes a much more attractive target, Sosa will slide.

  3. Craig Calcaterra - May 26, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    I didn’t say that Sosa wasn’t being cute and wasn’t trying to deceive, but this isn’t a kid with a rock. This is perjury and you can’t just go with “he was trying to cute with us and parse language.” The dozens of lawyers who were there to cross examine him had an obligation to pin him down and they didn’t.

  4. Aarcraft - May 26, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    Wouldn’t the statute run from when they found out he was lying, rather than when he lied?

  5. Craig Calcaterra - May 26, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    I think that such an argument could be made. Not sure how it would cut, though. Obviously multiple people in government were aware of the 2003 test at the time. Whether that knowledge would be imputed to the Congressional committee is an interesting question.

  6. Joey B - May 26, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    If someone came into my office on an interview and said he doesn’t use drugs, then I found he out he had failed a drug test two weeks earlier, I’d assume he was lying to me, even if he wasn’t using drugs that day.
    Without getting into the legalities of what constitutes a lie, if he had told you that he was clean, and he had just failed a drug test, would you feel like he lied to you? Not legally, just like if it were two people having a beer together? Were they lying or were they not?

  7. Craig Calcaterra - May 26, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Well, sure, but you can’t say “without getting into the legalities,” because the whole story is about charging him with lying under the law. I’m not disputing the fact that Sosa was trying to get people to believe that the never did steroids during his testimony. I’m simply saying that in doing so, he didn’t break the law.

  8. Joey B - May 26, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    “I’m not disputing the fact that Sosa was trying to get people to believe that the never did steroids during his testimony. I’m simply saying that in doing so, he didn’t break the law.”
    But my point was addressing the fact that you said he clearly did not lie to the committee. It was a very well-rehearsed lie, and it was a legally well-constructed lie, designed by a lawyer that earned his retainer that day (unlike the bumpkin Clemens hired), but it was clearly a lie.

  9. Craig Calcaterra - May 26, 2010 at 2:19 PM

    OK, I see your point. I probably should have written “he did not perjure himself before the committee.

  10. Joey B - May 26, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Actually, for a guy pretending not to be able to speak English, that dyed himself white before dying himself black, he got himself some good lawyering. I doubt anyone paid much attention to the wording back then, since it’s all for entertainment purposes and they only need one sap to get jail time, but his wording was exceedingly exact. Kind of makes one want to be a lawyer.

  11. Rays fan - May 26, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    Nobody paid too much attention to Sosa’s performance, although it was noted, because everyone was too hell-bent on tarring and feathering Mark McGwire.

  12. Tony A - May 27, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    How about we go after the assholes at BP, Transwhatever, Cheney’s company, the WV coal mine murderer, Goldman-sucks, etc, and leave the PED users alone…

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