April 28 (Bloomberg) -- A key government witness in the perjury case against ex-New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens put a beer can in a corpse’s hand while working as a New York City police officer in the 1990s, according to a court filing.
Federal prosecutors described Brian McNamee’s “prior bad acts” in a request to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington to bar Clemens’s lawyers from revealing them to jurors. The incidents include McNamee putting a beer can in the hand of a dead woman’s body in what he said in an unpublished manuscript was an attempt at humor.
“While distasteful conduct, Mr. McNamee’s action of posing the dead woman’s body with the beer can does not in any way relate to Mr. McNamee’s ability to tell the truth,” prosecutors said in the filing unsealed yesterday. Prosecutors said McNamee, as a police officer, also lost his gun.
Four men and eight women on the jury will decide after four to six weeks of evidence whether the seven-time Cy Young Award winner lied to Congress when he said he never used performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee is scheduled to testify at Clemens’s trial, which began April 23.
Clemens, 49, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury. If convicted on all charges, he faces as long as 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.
A previous trial ended when Walton declared a mistrial in July. He found that prosecutors improperly showed the jury a video clip of a 2008 congressional hearing in which the wife of a government witness, Andy Pettitte, was discussed. Walton had ruled earlier that the government could make no references to Laura Pettitte or an affidavit she gave Congress. Andy Pettitte is a former Clemens teammate and close friend.
Clemens, who pitched for the Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays during a 24-year career, used the anabolic steroids and human growth hormone, or HGH, to remain competitive as he aged, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham told jurors during his opening statement.
The drugs were injected into him by McNamee, his former personal trainer, who worked with the pitcher for 10 years, Durham said. The evidence includes a needle and cotton balls containing Clemens’s DNA that tested positive for anabolic steroids, he said.
Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for Clemens, told jurors McNamee manipulated the evidence and that an expert will testify it’s easy to add somebody’s DNA to a needle that’s never been used in an injection.
Sought to Profit
Hardin said McNamee sought to profit from his fame as Clemens’s accuser. He showed jurors the cover of an unpublished manuscript by McNamee titled “Death, Taxes and Mac” and called attention to a $10 million lawsuit McNamee filed against Clemens in New York.
In that manuscript, according to yesterday’s filing, McNamee says he was docked 30 days pay for losing his gun while on the New York City police force in the early 1990s. He was disciplined another time for neglecting to properly oversee a prisoner, according to the filing.
Regarding the beer can incident at a New York City apartment, McNamee falsely told a supervisor at the scene that he didn’t touch anything, according to the filing.
“This conduct reflects poor judgment, but it does not simultaneously reflect on Mr. Mcnamee’s veracity,’ prosecutors said. ‘‘As his manuscript makes clear, Mr. McNamee’s sole intent was to perpetrate a joke, not to deceive.”
Hardin declined to comment yesterday on the government’s filing.
The filing also mentions a 2001 rape investigation in St. Petersburg, Florida, in which McNamee was interviewed by police. McNamee made false statements in the course of that probe, prosecutors said in the court filing. He was never charged with any crime related to the investigation.
Prosecutors said the only question Clemens’s defense team should be allowed to ask McNamee about the Florida incident is whether he made false statements to Florida police.
Allegations of substance abuse and other misconduct raised by McNamee’s ex-wife in a divorce proceeding in New York were redacted by prosecutors.
Walton hasn’t ruled on the request.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, declined to comment on the filing.
The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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