On February 19, Troy Ellerman resigned as PRCA commissioner.
Prior to becoming the commissioner of the PRCA, Ellerman was on the PRCA Board of Directors and worked as an attorney in San Francisco representing Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, as well as BALCO vice president James Valente at varying times.
BALCO has been under investigation for supplying steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to top-tier athletes, including baseball players Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Garry Sheffield and sprinter Tim Montgomery.
During Ellerman’s time working for Conte and Valente, secret grand jury documents from the BALCO steroids investigation were leaked to San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada. In addition to newspaper stories, the duo published a book called “Game of Shadows,” which chronicles Bonds’ alleged use of steroids.
In March of 2004, Ellerman signed an agreement that he would not disclose grand jury testimony given to him to prepare for his client’s defense. After the leaks, in October of 2004, Ellerman signed a statement swearing he wasn’t the source and filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case against Valente because of the leaks.
After former PRCA commissioner Steven J. Hatchell resigned in December of 2004, Ellerman left his law practice and was named commissioner in January of 2005.
Over the next two years, the San Francisco reporters were under intense pressure from a federal judge to divulge their source, but refused-a move that could mean prison time.
Then, in December of 2006, Larry McCormack, who shared an office with Ellerman in San Francisco and became the director of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame under his tenure, offered to prove to the FBI that Ellerman was the leak, according to a story originally broken by yahoosports.com.
McCormack’s job with the ProRodeo Hall of Fame was terminated, according to the PRCA, “…with due cause by the ProRodeo Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees,” prior to his talks with the FBI.
According to the Associated Press, in February Ellerman entered a guilty plea to one count of filing a false declaration, one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of contempt. Under Ellerman’s plea, he faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The deal would also prevent the reporters from going to jail.
However, according to the A.P., U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White is not bound by Ellerman’s plea agreement and could impose as much as a 15-year prison term. Sentencing for the obstruction of justice charge is scheduled for June 14.
The reporters and the newspaper continue to protect their source and have neither confirmed nor denied that Ellerman was their source.
In a letter of resignation addressed to the PRCA Board of Directors, Ellerman stated, “Due to the fact that I have entered a plea of guilty in the BALCO case, I believe it is in the best interest of the PRCA to resign from my position as commissioner. My resignation will be effective immediately. It has been an honor to serve the PRCA. The PRCA is well served by a strong Board of Directors, and I am confident it will continue to move forward under its direction.”
The PRCA Board accepted Ellerman’s resignation with deep appreciation for his efforts in returning the PRCA to financial health.
“We appreciate Troy’s hard work and dedication to the PRCA during his tenure as PRCA commissioner,” stated PRCA Chairman of the Board Keith Martin. “Thanks in part to his leadership, the PRCA achieved a multi-million-dollar financial turnaround, and is now strong, stable and in position for solid growth.”
Chairman of the Board Martin will serve temporarily as the interim chief executive officer of the PRCA.