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Clemens indicted on federal perjury charge

Clemens indicted on federal perjury charge
New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Mitchell Report and its allegations that Clemens used performance enhancing drugs on Capitol Hill in Washington on February 13, 2008. (UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Baseball great Roger Clemens was indicted Thursday on federal charges he lied to the U.S. Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a release a grand jury in Washington had handed up an indictment charging Clemens, 48, of Houston with one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury.

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Clemens, who won Major League Baseball's Cy Young Award seven times during a stellar career with Boston, Toronto, the New York Yankees and Houston, famously told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February 2008 that he had never taken anabolic steroids or human growth hormone. His testimony contradicted that of Brian McNamee, his former trainer, who claimed to have injected Clemens with the drugs nearly 40 times from 1998 to 2001.

Clemens' name came up in George Mitchell's report on baseball players' use of banned substances.

Clemens and his attorneys have challenged the credibility of McNamee, who worked out a deal with federal authorities to avoid prosecution for steroid distribution.

An attorney for Clemens told The Washington Post Thursday, "We have heard nothing from the government."

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The congressional panel had formally referred the matter to the Department of Justice to investigate.

"The Department of Justice takes referrals from congressional committees very seriously," U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said. "Americans have a right to expect that witnesses who testify under oath before Congress will tell the truth.

"Our government cannot function if witnesses are not held accountable for false statements made before Congress. Today the message is clear: If a witness makes a choice to ignore his or her obligation to testify honestly, there will be consequences."

If found guilty, Clemens could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined $1.5 million.

In February 2009, major league infielder Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty to making misleading statements to committee investigators in August 2005 concerning his knowledge of performance-enhancing drugs. Tejada now plays for San Diego. He previously played for Oakland, Baltimore and Houston.

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