SAN FRANCISCO — A sports doctor and four other Californians were indicted on charges of running one of the largest steroids sales operation in the nation, with customers ranging from teen-agers to weightlifters and professional football players, the U.S. attorney here announced Wednesday.
The 32-count indictment unsealed Wednesday in San Jose does not identify the users, but U.S. Atty. Joseph P. Russoniello said "there were several" football players whose identities will be revealed later.
Russoniello said the "most critical aspect of the case" was that the sellers peddled the muscle-building drugs to teen-agers. Authorities say use of the drugs by youths can stunt their physical development.
"It was a widespread distribution business that went to . . . thousands of gyms," said Jeffrey Freedman, associate chief counsel for the Food and Drug Administration, which helped investigate the case.
The indictment named Steven A. Coons, 28, of Santa Clara, as the leader of the ring and charged that he and his wife, Caroline Coons, 23, deposited $1.6 million into bank accounts between 1984 and 1986 from the sale of the drugs.
In addition, the indictment charged Jeffrey Feliciano with making anabolic steroids in a laboratory that he initially set up in the attic of a gymnasium in Fountain Valley. Feliciano, 36, who passed himself off as a researcher, faces state charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute steroids in Orange County.
The drugs were advertised in sports magazines and Steven Coons and Feliciano are charged with mail fraud.
The indictment charged that Coons obtained another $765,000 worth of steroids with help from Dr. John Perzik, 50, of Milpitas. Like Coons, Perzik was charged with conspiracy and violating federal provisions against selling the restricted drugs without prescriptions. Also charged was Charles Lewis Silcox, 25, of Santa Clara.
The indictment says the main purchasers of the drugs were located in Denver, Baltimore and Fort Smith, Ark. Drugs sold included a human growth hormone and such male hormones as testosterone cypionate. Such drugs build muscles but can cause cancer, heart disease, stroke and sterility.
Federal authorities began investigating the black market in steroids in 1985. The investigation has resulted in indictments of 59 people, including several in San Diego in May. Seven people have been sentenced to prison and fines of $1 million have been imposed.