The wife of a former New York Yankees assistant coach who claims to have given Roger Clemens steroids and human growth hormone said her husband didn’t tell her about injecting Clemens until late 2007.
Eileen McNamee, 42, testifying for the defense today in federal court in Washington in the former star pitcher’s perjury trial, contradicted the testimony of her husband, Brian McNamee. The McNamees are involved in a divorce proceeding in New York.
Brian McNamee, who was the Yankees’ assistant strength and conditioning coach, is the prosecution’s only eyewitness to Clemens’s alleged drug use. He told jurors that he injected the ballplayer with steroids and HGH during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 baseball seasons while both men worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Yankees. He said he told his wife about these injections no later than 2001.
Eileen McNamee said today that the first time her husband told her about injecting Clemens was a couple days before former U.S. Senator George Mitchell released a report on steroids in Major League Baseball on Dec. 13, 2007. Mitchell named Clemens in the report as having used drugs on 16 occasions between 1998 and 2001.
“Did he say anything to you about having given injections of steroids or HGH to any ballplayers” previously, Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for Clemens, asked.
“No, he did not,” said McNamee, who testified under a U.S. Justice Department grant of immunity.
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with one count of obstructing a congressional investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs by professional athletes. He’s also charged with three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury stemming from his testimony to a House panel. If convicted, he faces as long as 21 months in prison.
Brian McNamee said he saved needles, cotton and vials from one of the injections in 2001 and kept some of the items in a Miller Lite beer can that he took from the recycling bin in Clemens’s apartment.
McNamee said he saved the material because his wife kept telling him that he would be the one to take the fall if something went wrong.
“She kept saying: ‘You’re going to go down, you’re going to go down, you’re going to go down if something bad ever happens,’” Brian McNamee told jurors on May 15.
He testified he showed the material to his wife the night he brought it to their New York home. She suggested putting it in a zip-lock bag and he opted for a FedEx box, he said.
In 2008, he gave the material to prosecutors, who said a needle and cotton contained Clemens’s DNA and tested positive for anabolic steroids.
Eileen McNamee, a New York City schoolteacher, today denied being told about injections or seeing the medical waste in 2001. She said she was never told what was in the FedEx box, which she said she first saw while preparing the basement for possible flooding in late 2001.
“I asked him what the FedEx box was,” she said. “He said he was saving things for his protection and it was none of my concern.”
She said that two years later the two were no longer sleeping in the same room in their home. While putting away clothes in her husband’s bedroom in 2003 or 2004, she said she saw the FedEx box. It was open and she pulled out a bag of unused syringes and brown-colored vials.
Hardin put up a photo of a bag of unused needles and vials that were among the items that McNamee had turned over to prosecutors. She said she saw some of those items in the FedEx box. Next to the box was a Bud Light beer can. She said she shook the can and heard what she thought were the sound of syringes inside.
“When you saw those items in the box what did you do?” Hardin asked.
“I just left them there,” she said. “I put the contents back in.”
“Did you have any conversation with Brian McNamee about seeing the box?” Hardin asked.
“No, we didn’t have a conversation about it,” she said.
She said the next time she saw the box was around the time the Mitchell report had come out. At that time, Eileen McNamee said she was sleeping in bed with her two-year-old daughter. She also had a baseball bat for protection due to all the publicity surrounding her husband’s allegations.
Brian McNamee, who had moved out by then, came home one evening in January 2008, grabbed the FedEx box and left, she said.
Hardin asked whether she ever “fussed” to her husband about his work with Clemens. Brian McNamee told jurors his wife was upset about all the time he spent away from home and their children while training Clemens and other ballplayers. The couple has three children.
“No, it was not an issue,” she said. “It was not an easy task but I was just happy to be home with the children. I may have complained, but I never fussed about it.”
“Did you ever harp on him and tell him if he didn’t stop what he was doing that he was going to be the fall guy?” Hardin asked.
“No I did not,” she said. “I couldn’t tell him to stop doing what I didn’t know.”
Eileen McNamee will continue testifying tomorrow. The trial is in its eighth week. The defense has named an additional five witnesses, including Clemens’s wife, Debbie.
Prosecutors in court papers today suggested they might put on a rebuttal case and asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton for permission to call former Yankees Mike Stanton and Chuck Knoblauch as witnesses. Walton hasn’t ruled on that request.
The case is U.S. v. Clemens, 1:10-cr-00223, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).