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News Release [printer friendly page]

Former Physician Sentenced for Distributing Performance-Enhancing Drugs to NFL Players, Others

JUL 18--COLUMBIA, S.C. – An alternative medicine physician who formerly practiced in West Columbia, S.C., was sentenced today in federal court for conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson, Jr., sentenced James M. Shortt, 59, to twelve months and one day in prison.

Shortt admitted during his guilty plea last March that he conspired to distribute anabolic steroids and HGH to NFL football players, bodybuilders and law enforcement officers for purposes of performance enhancement. The Controlled Substances Act prohibits distribution of anabolic steroids solely for performance enhancement as being outside the scope of legitimate medical practice.

Federal sentencing guidelines projected Shortt’s sentence to range from zero to six months incarceration. However, prosecutors sought a higher sentence, based on several factors: (1) the advisory sentencing guidelines did not sufficiently address the seriousness of the defendant's conduct in trafficking in performance enhancing drugs; (2) the guidelines failed to include HGH as a drug-trafficking offense; (3) the defendant's prescribing of steroids to a teenager was not accounted for by the guidelines; and (4) recent changes in the sentencing guidelines suggested that a more punitive sentence was appropriate.

Based in part upon the government’s argument, and also on what Judge Anderson perceived as a “lack of remorse” on the part of Shortt, the court rejected the zero to six months sentencing range and instead sentenced Shortt to one year and one day in prison. With the additional day in prison, Shortt can qualify for good behavior credit while incarcerated, potentially resulting in a shorter term of approximately 10 and a half months. Following his release from prison, Shortt will be placed on supervised release for two years.

The case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Winston D. Holliday, Jr., and Jane B. Taylor of the Columbia, S.C., office handled the case.

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